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George Clooney makes quiet visit to volatile Sudan region

In this Jan. 9, 2011 file photo, George Clooney stands outside a polling station on the first day of voting in Juba, then capital of southern Sudan. Pete Muller

(CBS/AP) George Clooney is not afraid to enter dangerous territory. The actor and human rights activist made a quiet visit to a volatile border region between Sudan and South Sudan last week ahead of testimony he's giving before a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday.

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Clooney made the dangerous crossing from South Sudan into Sudan's Nuba Mountains region, Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the anti-genocide group the Enough Project, said Tuesday. Clooney saw burned-out villages and met with residents forced to seek shelter in caves because of aerial attacks by Sudan's military.

Violence has flared up along the Sudan-South Sudan border since South Sudan seceded last year, and some experts worry the conflict could grow.

Wednesday's hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will examine the oil dispute and the limited access aid groups are being given to Sudan's southern regions. Aid experts say people who live in Sudan's Nuba Mountains will soon face a hunger crisis because they haven't been able to plant crops amid fear of attacks from Sudan.

Clooney traveled to what is now known as South Sudan in January 2011 as the region cast votes to secede from Sudan. The vote was the culmination of a peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war.

After that visit, Clooney helped found the Satellite Sentinel Project, which uses satellite imagery to track military movements and attacks in the hopes of bringing attention to and potentially heading off hostilities.

Clooney next stars in the sci-fi thriller, "Gravity," alongside Sandra Bullock.

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