Actor-director George Clooney is using his star power to bring attention to genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Clooney joined Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., today in Washington to urge international action.
Clooney and his father traveled to the capital to meet with lawmakers this week, five days after returning from their trip to Darfur. The Clooneys traveled around the country visiting refugee camps and towns that had been destroyed by the Sudan government-supported militia known as the Janjaweed.
About 2 million civilians have been driven from their homes and now live in refugee camps in Darfur. Thousands have died from inadequate supplies of food and water, and from disease.
Obama called the incidents in Africa a slow-moving genocide that is happening before the world's eyes. Although Obama and Brownback are from battling political parties, they said the issue transcends party lines. Both politicians hope to advance policy to help the region.
Obama says the region, which is about the size of France, has too few aid workers, and that the United Nations should step in with more security forces. Obama called for 20,000 troops to move into the region and work with the African Union. But he noted that international agreements for aid and troops take time, usually at least six months.
"This is not a prize assignment," said Obama.
Brownback agreed with Obama, saying there is no political gain in speaking out on this issue, but without action "they will die," he added, referring to the displaced Africans. He urged President Bush to appoint an envoy to the region to help negotiate a settlement.
All three men spoke of the need to keep this issue in the headlines. They said they would keep pushing governments to become more involved with security forces, aid workers, supplies and money.
Clooney said that diplomacy and security is the answer, and international efforts are needed. "If not NATO or the U.N., then who? We have to start today, otherwise a few thousand people will be dead at the end of the month."