George Clooney Makes Darfur Demands

ByABC News via logo

Sept. 15, 2006 — -- Actor-director George Clooney wants the United Nations Security Council to act more forcefully in the beleaguered Darfur region of Sudan.

"The only reason I'm there is to shine a spotlight on those people who are making those decisions, so that they have to do them under a white hot glare," Clooney said in a speech to the Security Council Thursday. "We want to enforce it now and that means sanctions, personal sanctions and that means punitive."

More than 200,000 people have died in Sudan's remote western region of Darfur, and more than 2 million have fled their homes since 2003 when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government.

The result has been a humanitarian crisis. Clooney asked the Security Council to send in a peacekeeping force into Darfur, because the African Union that is currently on the ground will leave at the end of September.

"We were brought up to believe that the U.N. was formed to ensure that the Holocaust could never happen again," Clooney said. "So after Sept. 30, you won't need the U.N. You will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones. How you deal with it will be your legacy -- your Rwanda, your Cambodia, your Auschwitz."

The crisis in Darfur is an issue that Clooney is passionate about, along with his father, journalist Nick Clooney. The pair traveled to the region last April.

"You can't believe it until you see it," Nick Clooney said. "You can't believe it until you look into those eyes that have no hope."

The younger Clooney agreed.

"When you are there, it really has such an amazing effect," George Clooney said. "I remember a little girl pulling me by the finger. … She said to the translator, she said, 'When are you going to come back,' and I said, 'Soon. Tell her soon.' "

The girl giggled, Clooney said, and pulled his finger again.

"I said, 'What did she say?' " he said. "And she said, 'That is what you always say.' "

Nick Clooney criticized the world's slow reaction to the situation in Darfur.

"For some reason or another, we have been a step behind on every genocide from the Holocaust to Cambodia," he said. "So the question is, is this one we can actually stop?"

George Clooney believes the world is obligated to help.

"We are a world community, and we have a responsibility and this is a big one," he said.

The younger Clooney was, in part, inspired by the humanitarian work of friends Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

"Brad was very involved in the one campaign with Bono, and that's where it started for me," he said.

Pitt and Clooney continue to talk about opportunities in Africa.

"We are working together, so we talk all the time," he said.

Clooney told ABC News that he has an obligation as a human, not just as a celebrity, to get involved in the crisis.

"I think it is a responsibility as a human being to get involved, [especially] if you happen to be a celebrity and can get more attention brought to it," Clooney said. "I'd be so ashamed if at the end of my life, if I didn't participate in solving some of the problems of the human condition."