The Descendants star made a secret trip to newly-independent South Sudan last week (begs05Mar12) to gather information about the country’s feud with neighbouring Sudan ahead of his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday (14Mar12).
It was Clooney’s sixth trip to the troubled African region and although he admits it was his most “hairy” visit to date after he was caught up in a rocket attack, he insists his real fears are for the safety of locals who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of President Omar al-Bashir’s ruthless quest for oil.
In an interview on U.S. breakfast show Today, which aired on Wednesday (14Mar12), the actor said, “(The scariest thing was) the randomness of the violence and people getting killed and hurt. There were 39 people in the village we were in, killed in the last month, 514 injured, 39 killed, in a village of 1,000 people – and that’s just in one village! (They were killed) by Omar al-Bashir. The same three guys – (Ahmed) Haroun, defence minister (Abdelrahim Mohamed) Hussein, and Omar al-Bashir – who were charged for war crimes in Darfur, are the exact same people bombing innocent people. And they (the people of South Sudan) are living in caves because they’re getting bombed and they’re getting bombed every day. This is not a military exercise; these are innocent people.
“This whole thing is about fear and intimidation. This is ethnic cleansing. It’s that simple… They want them to leave. They are only getting rid of people who are non-Arab, period, that’s it…
“At the end of the day, what it all comes down to, is creating space to get to the oil… and South Sudan has the oil, and North Sudan has the refineries, and that’s the problem.”
Now Clooney is encouraging his fellow countrymen and women to help him put pressure on the U.S. government and Sudanese officials to work towards peace – because the daily attacks are having a direct impact on the American economy, and at the very basic level, causing the price of petrol to soar across the world.
He explained, “Right now, what is going on in the Sudan changes the cost of gas every single day of your life. So, if for no other reason other than your economic interests, there is plenty of reason to make sure that your government is involved in trying to secure some sort of peace.”
The Oscar winner will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss the issue in more detail before taking a stand outside the Sudanese embassy on Friday (16Mar12).