Where food is scarce, but almost every child has an AK47…
George Clooney – actor, human rights activist, and UN peace messenger, again brings international attention to one of the most dangerous and underdevelopecd nations in the world: the war-torn country of the Sudan. With the January referendum around the corner, tensions are rising as “winds of war” threaten to blow across the south. Southern Sudan, which holds the largest supply of the country’s underground oil supply and is comprised of predominantly black Christians, is threatening to secede from the predominantly Arab Islamic north in the January elections and the government in Khartoum is not planning to let them go without a fight.
Sudan has been a violent area of contention, where genocide has been raging for 20 years. In recent years spotlight has been focused primarily on the western setion of Darfur, where ethnic cleansing has long garnered international attention. Now, George Clooney is using his international stardom, to bring the world’s attention back to a nation in crises. Undergoing an armed journey into the hot-spot border between the northern and southern tribes, Clooney, accompanied by reporter Ann Curry and a team of MSNBC Dateline cameras , spent several weeks with African activists traveling extensively through the rural villages of Sudan. Landing first in the southern city of Juba, Clooney’s journey takes him into the heartland of the rural African savannas, where patchworks of tribes lay scattered along the upper Nile. These people, having endured violent warfare, privation, devastation, pillaging, abductions, rapings and murder are a weary but resilient, pro-independence group, willing to again undergo all the horrors of war again in order to fight for independence. Hardly anyone believes that the crisis will be averted. If the elections are held as promised, the majority of the south will vote for secession, and the north will retaliate with violence. Some villagers hope that the UN will prove effective in keeping the peace or imagine that pacifist global powers will intervene to avert a clash. But the elders, weary and jaded, hold less sanguine hopes about the world coming to the rescue of a country so long forgotten.
In a land where 9 out of 10 women are illiterate, food is meager and nearly every child has handled an AK47 in defense of their home, Clooney fears that the Sudan is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. His aim is to bring international attention to the crisis but even he recognizes that his stardom can only accomplish so much. It’s one thing to bring attention to a brewing conflict but if the powers that be are unwilling to step up and intervene, only the January election can tell what will happen.
The Winds of War documentary, which aired Friday, 12/3, can be viewed in 6 segments on MSNBC