By Geneva Sands - 03/14/12 08:05 PM EDT
The Oscar-nominated actor testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled, "Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity,” aimed at bringing attention to the humanitarian crisis in the region.
“It is a campaign of murder and fear and displacement and starvation,” Clooney said during testimony before the committee Wednesday.
The star of “The Descendants” has been actively involved in bringing attention to the plight of the Sudanese people for years, co-founding the Satellite Sentinel Project in 2010 with John Prendergast, who also spoke at the hearing Wednesday. Their joint project aims to capture satellite imagery of troop movements and attacks on civilians inside the country to provide information that would otherwise not reach the public.
He told the Senate committee that on his recent trip to Sudan, 15 bombs were dropped on a neighboring village in the Nuba Mountains. Clooney also reported witnessing children hit with shrapnel and hundreds of people fleeing from their villages to caves for safety.
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), who traveled to Sudan himself along with Clooney last year, opened the hearing by saying it is the responsibility of the committee “to shine attention on issues” that are not in the daily news cycle.
“Our committee, I believe, would fail the test of history, if we allowed attention today to drift from the critical situation in Sudan and South Sudan,” Kerry said.
During the hearing, Clooney called on the United States to use diplomacy to appeal to China’s economic motivations, given the economic giant’s huge investment in Sudanese oil.
“China has a $20 billion investment in oil infrastructure in the Sudan, and right now they’re not getting anything from it,” Clooney said. “We need to use this opportunity to work in tandem with the Chinese to solve these cross-border issues.”
South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, shut off its oil production earlier this year in protest of its northern neighbor, the Republic of Sudan, from which it seceded last summer.
Clooney suggested the United States find and freeze offshore bank accounts of alleged war criminals in Sudan, techniques similar to those used against terrorists.
“Let’s work with the international community to toughen the sanctions, make Khartoum a very lonely place,” he said.