2nd UPDATE: *George Clooney spoke movingly and passionately to the United Nation’s most powerful body Thursday, saying the world would be blamed for another Rwanda if atrocities were not halted in Sudan’s Darfur region. “In many ways it is unfair but it is nevertheless true that this genocide will be on your watch. How you deal with it will be your legacy,” Clooney said. “Your Rwanda, Your Cambodia, your Auschwitz.” Reminding that the mandate of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur expires at the end of the month and the Sudanese government has rejected their replacement by a U.N. force, Clooney warned that if U.N. forces are not sent to replace them, all aid workers would leave and the 2.5 million refugees who depend on them would die. “After September 30, you won’t need the U.N. You will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones,” the Oscar-winning actor said. “The United States has called it genocide. For you, it’s called ethnic cleansing. But make no mistake it is the first genocide of the 21st century. And if it continues unchecked it will not be the last.”*
It’s been said that Hollywood’s hottest marriage is the one between actors and Africa. That’ll be true Thursday when Oscar winner George Clooney is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council on the crisis in Darfur. That’s right, not some small media conference, but the actual Security Council. Hosted by John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the briefing is organized by The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity (EWF), which recently established a Darfur Commission of Nobel Laureates. Clooney visited Darfuri refugees last April to use his celebrity clout to raise awareness of the plight of refugees in the war-torn region, considered the 3rd biggest humanitarian crisis in the history of the UN. According to the Oscar-winning actor, the US, the UN and the world’s policies on Sudan are failing. “If we turn our heads and look away and hope that it will disappear then they will-all of them, an entire generation of people. And we will only have history left to judge us,” Clooney has said about the tragedy.
Alongside Clooney at the UN will be Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and anti-genocide activist who expressed outrage when Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir this summer claimed “Jewish organizations” are behind calls to put UN peacekeepers in the strife-torn region. In June, a UN Security Council delegation toured Darfur. Since February 2003, the worsening genocide sponsored by the Sudanese government and perpetrated by its “Janjaweed” militia allies has claimed at least 400,000 lives, displaced 2.5 million people, and left 3.5 million dependent on international humanitarian aid. The Sudanese government has refused to accept U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur, and is threatening to expel African Union peacekeeping forces. Both Clooney and Weisel have addressed various U.S. rallies sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition (http://www.savedarfur.org/), a coalition of 165 faith-based, advocacy, and humanitarian organizations representing over 130 million Americans.
The Save Darfur Coalition has made these demands of the Sudanese government: 1. Withdraw any objection to a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur. The purpose of such a force would be to protect your own citizens from harm, and there is already ample precedent, given the current UN peacekeeping force in south Sudan. 2. Allow humanitarian relief organizations full and unfettered access to the villages and refugee camps for internally displaced people in Darfur. A good first step would be reinstating the Norwegian Refugee Council, which the Sudanese government ejected from Sudan in early April. 3. Abide by the terms of the N’Djamena ceasefire calling for an end to hostilities in Darfur, and to UN Security Council resolutions by disarming the genocidal Janjaweed militias. 4. Fully commit to reaching a lasting agreement at the current, seventh round of the Abuja peace talks on Sudan’s Darfur region. ledge to support a stronger multi-national force to protect the Darfuri people and for Congress to provide the resources to do so. Clooney and Wiesel will hold a press conference immediately following the 3 p.m. Thursday briefing.