Friday, January 25, 2008

UN Sends Hollywood Hunk to Darfur

On January 18, actor George Clooney was designated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, to raise awareness of the world body’s peacekeeping efforts. He set out to days ago to do just this.

George Clooney traveled to Sudan and Chad two days ago to promote peacekeeping efforts in the Darfur region of Sudan that has been plagued with ethnic conflict between Northern Sudan’s Arab and Muslim population and Southern Sudan’s Christian population. The Janjaweed, a paramilitary group funded by the Sudanese government, along with many Arab rebel groups allied with the Janjaweed, have been specifically attacking non-Arab villages and killing thousands of civilians.

It is thought that 200,000 have died so far from violence and health issues, including dehydration and starvation. Over two million have been displaced. Currently, there are approximately 240,000 refugees in Chad, which has resulted in violence along its Sudanese border. Most UN peacekeeping efforts have been halted by the Sudanese government, which is not interested in accepting international assistance for what they view as an internal problem.

Clooney has been active in his endeavors to bring an end to the emergency in Darfur. In 2006, he visited Darfur with his father. Also in 2006, along with Messenger of Peace, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Mr. Clooney spoke to Security Council members at an “Arria formula” meeting, whereby non-governmental actors can address the Council outside official sessions. Mr. Clooney also served as executive producer and narrator of a documentary last year entitled “Sand and Sorrow,” which follows activists as they stop in refugee camps along Sudan’s border with Chad and interviews experts on the crisis.

He will receive his designation and meet with countries contributing to UN peacekeeping efforts at the Organization’s Headquarters in New York on 31 January.

Other celebrity supporters for the UN include Angelina Jolie, who works for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a Goodwill Ambassador.

George Clooney travels to Chad for U.N. trip

Refugee situation in Chad precarious, but no return possible without security, says UNHCR