Academy Award winner George Clooney has decided to use his celebrity to speak out on the carnage in Sudan.
Days after returning from a trip to the Darfur region of Sudan, Clooney spoke at the National Press Club in Washington Thursday alongside Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to urge a greater focus on the people of the troubled area.
"There are innocent people in harm's way in the most brutal of fashions," said Clooney of the crisis in Darfur. "Everyone has a good reason not to act … but the one thing we cannot do is turn our heads and look away."
Since 2003, tens of thousands of people have been killed in Darfur by the Sudanese military and the government-sponsored militia known as the Janjaweed. Villages have been set ablaze, women have been raped and property has been seized. Roughly 2 million have been forced to flee their homes and thousands die each month due to inadequate food, water and medical care.
While the ongoing conflict in Darfur tends to be portrayed as primarily an ethnic one, the crisis, in fact, involves several interrelated struggles. One is between government forces and rebels, another is between the Janjaweed militia and innocent civilians, and the last involves tensions within each of the communities in the region.
In a poignant tale about Darfur's continued plight for aid, Clooney said he was approached by a young girl who asked him, "'When will you come back? When will you stop this?'"
"Soon," he assured her. But as if already doubtful that help was on the way, Clooney said she replied: "That's what you always say."