SEATTLE — George Clooney is known as one of Hollywood’s top A-listers, but he’s seldom acknowledged for his global contributions. Clooney and John Prendergast, co-founders of The Sentry, urged leaders to address the “government-made” famine in the Southern Sudan in an op-ed in the Washington Post.
“Official, U.N.- declared famines are a rare phenomenon,” wrote Clooney. He expressed his concern by explaining how natural famines are rare and usually “man-made,” but in this case, this famine is classified as “government-made.”
The U.N. declared the famine in Mayendit and Leer counties of the southern Unity state. According to a survey conducted in February of 2016, 4.1 in 10,000 people died per day across Mayendit county, above the famine threshold of two hunger-related deaths per 10,000 people and about 10 times the average global death rate.
Mayendit and Leer counties are populated by various clans of the Nuer ethnic group, who are politically loyal to Riek Machar, the leader of South Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
The rebel group SPLA has launched attacks, including attacks on civilians and thrown up barriers for aid. The high violence and hunger death rates are the result of three scorched-earth campaigns waged by the government army, the SPLA and its militia allies.
The Southern Sudan’s government has kept the famine going strong by attacking civilian targets, raiding cattle and has recently concentrated attacks on agricultural production. The government has stopped humanitarian aid from entering the nation, preventing assistance at a time it is most urgently needed.
“100,000 face immediate starvation and another 1 million are on its brink… In South Sudan, war crimes pay. There is no accountability for the atrocities and looting of state resources, or for the famine that results… there has been no effort to counter the networks that benefit financially and politically from the crisis.” Clooney wrote.
If let to fend for themselves, the people of Southern Sudan will starve in the thousands, possibly the tens or hundreds of thousands because of the “government-made” famine.
There have been no efforts to stop those who benefit financially and politically from this crisis. George Clooney made a great stride to help those in the Southern Sudan, now it’s time for the world to step up and make better strides.
– Mary Waller