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George Clooney and Father Travel to Sudan

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SB LifeBlood

Joined: 28 Dec 2005
Posts: 577

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 10:27 pm    Post subject: George Clooney and Father Travel to Sudan Reply with quote

Clooney and Father Travel to Sudan

George Clooney has taken his social activism beyond movies like Good Night, and Good Luck and Syriana and has traveled with his father, TV newsman Nick Clooney, to Darfur in the Sudan, where a rebellion has reportedly claimed the lives of 180,000 and created 2 million refugees. The actor and his journalist father reportedly moved about incognito, along with cameraman Mike Herron, who captured scenes of the horrific conditions in Darfur. "This is an ongoing and terrible story that we were able to see up close," Nick Clooney told the Cincinnati Post. "These folks are helpless out there. There's nobody between them and very bad people." Their trip was timed to draw attention to the "Rally to Stop Genocide" scheduled to take place next Sunday in Washington. The Clooneys have been booked on several TV talk shows to discuss their trip to the area.
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SB Newbie

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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good for them. I think it is very noble of someone like Goerge Clooney to use his celebrity to bring attention to the situation in Sudan.
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SB LifeBlood

Joined: 28 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 10:59 pm    Post subject: As Darfur War Rages On, Disease and Hunger Kill Reply with quote

May 31, 2006

As Darfur War Rages On, Disease and Hunger Kill

ZAM ZAM, Sudan, May 24 The boy's legs were limp. Folds of skin hung loosely from his bones, easily holding the shape of the doctor's pinch a telltale sign of dehydration.

His face glowed with fever, and his narrow chest heaved and fluttered. His milky eyes darted desperately around the dim tent. He was a month old but weighed less than five pounds.

If this child, Mukhtar Ahmed, could be said to have had any good fortune in his short life, it is that he fell ill last week, and not a month from now. Within a few weeks even the doctor treating him may be gone.

Dr. Sayid Obeid Bakhiet's clinic, one of just two left in this vast, squalid camp of 35,000 people displaced by the conflict in the huge Darfur region of western Sudan, is out of money. It will be forced to close at the end of June unless the organization that runs it, the Sudanese Red Crescent, finds more cash, Dr. Bakhiet said.

"What will happen to these people when I am gone?" he asked as he rushed between the flood of patients he sees as many as 80 a day, six days a week. "Only God knows."

The brutal war in Darfur has set off what the United Nations has called the "world's worst humanitarian crisis," a crucible of death that seems to grow grimmer despite a new peace agreement. But it is not bullets that kill most people here now. It is pneumonia borne on desert dust, diarrhea caused by dirty water, malaria carried by mosquitoes to straw huts with no nets.

At least 200,000 and perhaps as many as 450,000 have died as a direct result of the conflict in Darfur, according to estimates by international health and human rights organizations, though no one is sure how many of the deaths have come from combat and how many from the hunger and disease that have been caused or worsened by the war.

But these days, people mostly die because they cannot get health care, clean water or enough food.

Local and international aid organizations here are trying to stave off these deaths, but their ranks are shrinking. They take care of 2.5 million people driven from their homes and farms with a diminishing pool of money as donors, particularly in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, have not sent all the money they pledged to Darfur. Beyond that, they work under tight restrictions imposed by Sudanese officials and face attacks by combatants who hijack their vehicles and menace their workers.

The conditions are so dire that the effort faces a widespread collapse, Jan Egeland, the top United Nations aid official, told the Security Council this month.

The peace agreement seeks to end the war in Darfur, in which rebels seeking autonomy and wealth for this impoverished region have fought against the government and its allied Arab militias.

But the accord will not end the catastrophe here anytime soon.

In the camp at Zam Zam for people displaced by the fighting, a health center run by Doctors Without Borders closed earlier this month, and no other international organization has stepped in to fill the gap.

The Spanish Red Cross, the organization coordinating the handful of remaining charities working in the camp, is frantically trying to find more money to keep Dr. Bakhiet's clinic going, and is optimistic that a donor will be found.

It is negotiating with one organization that has tentatively agreed to support the clinic. But that organization, like so many in Darfur, faces a shrinking pool of donations, and it has not yet committed the money, aid officials here said.

In the meantime, the Sudanese Red Crescent clinic is limping along. It runs on a skeleton crew working out of a half-dozen dusty canvas tents: one doctor, the 30-year-old Dr. Bakhiet; two nurses; a midwife; a pharmacist; and a lab technician. Trying to handle an endless stream of complaints, the clinic concentrates on the most urgent cases.

Dr. Bakhiet knew immediately that Mukhtar needed attention at once. His mother, Mariam Ahmed, a fire of panic burning in her eyes, urgently pressed the tiny child into the doctor's arms.

"He vomits everything," she said. "It looks like he cannot breathe."

Dr. Bakhiet listened to the boy's laboring chest and shook his head.

"Pneumonia," he said.

He felt the soft spot on top of Mukhtar's still-forming skull. It was sunken.

"Dehydration," he added.

Mukhtar needed an intravenous drip immediately to rehydrate him and reduce the fever, and a steady flow of antibiotics. Then he needed a hospital where he could receive care around the clock. Dr. Bakhiet and his team would shut down at 2 p.m.

"If he stays in the camp with no medical attention he will die," the doctor said. "Within a few hours he will start having convulsions."

There is no ambulance service here, so patients referred to the hospital 10 miles away in El Fasher, the provincial capital of Northern Darfur, take local buses. At more than a dollar each way, the fare is out of reach for most. As a nurse guided a needle into Mukhtar's minuscule hand, Ms. Ahmed asked a relative to see if anyone could help pay the fare.

From an aid perspective, things were getting better in Darfur until recently. "In 2005, we made a lot of gains in terms of child mortality, in terms of reducing malnutrition," Mr. Egeland said in a recent interview. "But now we are seeing those gains rolled back."

In fact, Doctors Without Borders made plans to close its Zam Zam clinic because the residents here had been doing better. Key indicators like mortality and malnutrition rates improved to the point that the situation no longer constituted an emergency, as the organization defined it.

Since Doctors Without Borders specializes in such emergencies, it decided to redeploy elsewhere, officials with the organization said. They searched for a replacement in the Zam Zam camp, but with all the agencies working in the region short of cash, they could not find anyone to run the center.

Then last month, Unicef said child malnutrition in Darfur was creeping back up toward the level it reached in 2004, when the crisis was at its worst. The World Food Program announced this month that it would halve rations for Darfur because it had received only 32 percent of the $746 million it needed to feed the needy in Darfur.

Those cuts have been largely restored, because the Sudanese government released 20,000 tons of grain for Darfur from its vast strategic reserves after intense criticism. Several shiploads of grain donated by the United States are on their way, and other countries have made donations since rations were cut, but it will take months for the food to arrive where it is needed most, aid officials said.

Delays are costly. Once the rainy season begins, seasonal roads wash out and food must be transported by helicopter. Sending a ton of food by road costs about $300, while transporting it by air can cost three to five times as much.

But money is not the only problem. Red tape has hamstrung the aid effort. Foreign workers wait months for permits and visas from the Sudanese government, and those already here are forced to pay hundreds of dollars every three months to renew their visas. Local workers face harassment and intimidation by Sudanese intelligence agents, government soldiers and rebels.

Staff members of aid organizations have been abducted or killed and their four-wheel-drive vehicles stolen by rebels and Arab militias. Because of such security problems, as many as 750,000 people in Darfur are beyond the reach of aid workers.

Sudan's humanitarian affairs minister, Kosti Manyebi, told reporters in Khartoum that new rules to improve access for aid organizations were being drafted, but it was not clear when they would take effect.

In Zam Zam, Mukhtar's mother was having trouble finding the money to go to El Fasher, and Dr. Bakhiet grew nervous. He had lost one little boy 10 days earlier to a deadly combination of disease just like Mukhtar's and could not bear to see it happen again.

Mukhtar had his second stroke of good luck: an African Union team visiting the camp agreed to take him and his mother to El Fasher, where Mukhtar was admitted to the hospital. The emergency room doctor who examined him there was guardedly optimistic about the boy's prognosis.

He uttered the ubiquitous Arabic phrase, invoked endlessly in this merciless place: inshallah, or God willing.

"Inshallah, he will live," the doctor said.
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SB LifeBlood

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 5:51 pm    Post subject: Annan laments Darfur 'nightmare' Reply with quote

Annan laments Darfur 'nightmare'

UN chief Kofi Annan has described the situation in Darfur as one of the worst nightmares in recent history.

The conflict in the Sudanese region was outrunning efforts to find a solution, he told African Union (AU) leaders at a summit in the Gambian capital, Banjul.

Tens of thousand of people have died in three years of conflict in Darfur, most killed by pro-government militias.

The summit is expected to pressure Sudan to allow UN peacekeepers to take over from the AU later this year.

The AU's mandate in Darfur expires in September, but the Sudanese government has yet to confirm whether it will allow UN troops into the region.

Rival factions in the region signed a partial peace agreement in May, but the situation remains volatile.

In his speech, Mr Annan painted a mixed picture of Africa's progress as a continent.

The conflicts in Darfur, Ivory Coast, Somalia and northern Uganda continue to outrun efforts for a solution
Kofi Annan
UN Secretary General

He praised what he called its inexorable and unstoppable progress on development, but said much remained to be done.

"Overall, the number of Africans living in extreme poverty continues to increase," he said.

"The spread of HIV/Aids continues to outpace our efforts to halt it.

"The conflicts in Darfur, Ivory Coast, Somalia and northern Uganda continue to outrun efforts for a solution.

"Many governments continue to suppress opposition parties and a free press... Many continue to practise or tolerate large-scale corruption."

He called for a fresh strategy to build development, security and human rights.

Somalia, Ivory Coast, and the impending trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor are also on the agenda at the summit.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are also attending the summit as invited guests.

Fifty-two villas and a huge hotel and conference centre have been built in just under six months just outside Banjul, to accommodate the delegates.

Darfur conflict

Some 200,000 people are thought to have died in Darfur, a vast region in the west of Sudan, in a three-year conflict.

Most have died in attacks by pro-government militias against civilians.

Rebel forces took up arms in February 2003, accusing the government of discriminating against Darfur's black Africans in favour of Arabs.

A partial peace deal was agreed in May, but not all sides signed the agreement and fears have grown over worsening conditions in camps home to displaced people.

The International Criminal Court was set up by the UN in 2002 to prosecute individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/07/02 07:27:11 GMT

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SB LifeBlood

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:00 am    Post subject: Clooney Lectures United Nations Reply with quote

18 September 2006

Clooney Lectures United Nations

George Clooney has delivered a speech to the United Nations Security Council, urging them to act on the continuing violence in Sudan. The Oscar winner warned members that genocide in the country's Darfur region was taking place on their "watch." Speaking at a special informal session hosted by the UN's US ambassador John Bolton, Clooney - who spent time in Darfur in April - also warned if UN troops don't enter the region by October 1 "aid workers will have to leave and if they leave that leaves a couple of million people with absolutely nothing." He said, "I'm here to represent the voices of the people who cannot speak for themselves. We know how difficult a task this is... but you are the UN and this is the task that you have been given. It is the first genocide of the 21st Century and if it continues unchecked, it will not be the last. How you deal with it is your legacy. It's your Rwanda - your Cambodia - your Auschwitz. We are one 'yes' away from ending it." Sudan rejected the last resolution to move 20,000 UN troops into the region.
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