Testifying before congress and starring in the latest African-activism appeal video, actor and director George Clooney is using his star power to shine a light on the decades-long conflict raging along the border between Sudan and South Sudan.
"What you see is a constant drip of fear," Clooney told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday after returning from a trip to South Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. "We found children filled with shrapnel, including a 9-year-old boy who had both of his hands blown off."
The nation of South Sudan is not even a year old, but the conflict between its residents and the government of Sudan has escalated for years. When South Sudan broke away from Sudan last year, the border was drawn along the Nuba Mountains, with Arab Sudanese populating the areas north of the border and non-arab or Blacks to the south. Sudan has accused South Sudan of continuing to aid a rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), and claims to be fighting against the SPLM.
Clooney and other activists say Sudan is simply targeting civilians and carrying out ghastly war crimes.
Helen Hughes, an arms expert for Amnesty International, told the Associated Press that rocket-fire bombardments hit the Nuba Mountains daily. Hughes said, "These rockets are long-range, ground-launched unguided rockets, and they're being used in Kauda, which is a civilian area. There are no military there. They're being used indiscriminately and that's a violation of international humanitarian law."
As a result of the attacks, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), 250,000 people could be on the brink of famine by the end of April. Clooney says his mission is to bring awareness to the tragedy unfolding in South Sudan so that the United States can take swift action toward stopping the Sudanese government's campaign.
"We want to try to choke off this government of Sudan," Clooney told CBS News. "We want to chase where their money is. They're not buying these weapons with Sudanese pounds. They have offshore accounts. We'd like to do what we did with the terrorists, which is chase the money and make it impossible for them to spend it."
Clooney made the trip with the advocacy group the Enough Project. As a part of the mission, Clooney filmed a compelling video for an organization about the conflict, which was uploaded on YouTube ahead of his testimony. As of Thursday, the video has received nearly 28,000 hits.
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(Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)
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