KHARTOUM, Sudan- It is pretty hard to avoid George Clooney these days. From People Magazine to his latest box office smash film “Gravity,” George Clooney has hardly ever been out of the spotlight. As one of the most influential people in the business, Clooney has tackled many tasks from movie directing to being named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In the past year, the USC Shoah Foundation honored Clooney for his leadership as a human rights advocate and activist by awarding him the Ambassador for Humanity Award. In 2008, he co-founded the Not On Our Watch project and set out to focus global attention and resources towards ending injustices around the world and genocide in Sudan.
In the dangerous border area between Sudan and South Sudan, violence in the form of rapes and bombings are a daily occurrence for people who live in the area. “What you see is a constant drip of fear,” said Clooney after returning from an eight-day trip from the region where he was documenting the atrocities being committed in Sudan. Along with John Prendergast, co-founder of the ENOUGH Project, Clooney made a four-minute video showing the lives of people in the Nuba Mountains and the violence the people face there. During his stay in the area, he met with many civilians and farmers who lived in fear of bombs being dropped on their farms and families overhead from military planes. Clooney also started a Satellite Sentinel Project prior to his visit to also document the ongoing turmoil in the region.
Upon his return, Clooney spoke to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the war crimes he witnessed in the region. This was days before he was arrested at the Sudanese embassy in Washington for a peaceful protest. While some critics have pointed out his Satellite Sentinel Project and argued that there are other reasons for his interest in humanitarianism, the fact remains Clooney’s leadership has put a spotlight to grave humanitarian crisis’s across the world. As Clooney put it, “I’m not a policymaker. My job is to turn up the volume.” The volume has certainly been turned up in regards to the fellow actors and artists who have joined him on his campaigns such as Brad Pitt, Mia Farrow, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Sandra Bullock.
What Clooney has done so efficiently in his humanitarian work is increase the buzz around existing organizations and projects by his name alone. Over the years he has influenced and encouraged people from all walks of life to raise their arms and join the fight against injustices. Darfur has been ill with conflict since 2003 and currently the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is being sought for war crimes including the rape and murder of civilians by the International Criminal Court. As these atrocities continue, more evidence of genocide is being produced. In fact, earlier this year the United Nations estimated that around 300,000 people have died and another 2.7 million have been displaced from conflicts.
– Jeffrey Scott Haley