George Clooney was in handcuffs in Washington today after protesting outside the Sudanese Embassy. The actor has condemned attacks on civilians in the Nuba Mountains near the border with South Sudan, calling for the U.S. to open a humanitarian corridor to thousands of people on the brink of famine.
Sudan has refused to allow aid groups to distribute food in the southern region, and chastised U.S. officials for talking about famine. "Unless they quit their propaganda of famine in the three areas, we will expel them," the Sudanese minister of international cooperation, Ishraqa Said Mahmoud, said last week.
Clooney has also spearheaded an effort to monitor Sudan with satellites, spotting tanks, helicopters and other signs of impending violence through a coalition of groups called the Satellite Sentinel Project.
The project warned in January that satellite photos foreshadowed fighting in the region. U.S. officials fear Sudanese attacks along the border with South Sudan could tip the region into war again.
Even though South Sudan won its independence from Sudan last year, "Sudan's wars have not ended. They have, in fact, multiplied," Jehanne Henry and Gerry Simpson of Human Rights Watch wrote in an Op-Ed article for The Times:
In a grim reprise of the civil war, the Sudanese government of President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir has been fighting armed opposition groups with historical links to the former southern rebels, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLMA), in Southern Kordofan and in Blue Nile.
The Times recently traveled to South Sudan to explore the issues facing the new nation. Here are three probing stories about this troubled region:
The two wards are at opposite ends of the hospital. One ward is silent but for a baby boy, gurgling on a bed in a corridor. A toddler wanders around with a machete scar on his head. The boys' parents are dead.
In the other ward lies one of the men who attacked them. When Gai Nashir was a baby, his father was also killed, by members of the boys' tribe. Quick to anger, he grew up with an enemy. ...
The ongoing tribal violence, which saw more than 200 people killed last week in the latest outbreak, poses a serious threat to a fragile state still recovering from a long war for independence from the Sudanese government.
To outsiders, the move appears suicidal, a recipe for ruining the economy and possibly returning to war.
But on the streets of Juba, the capital of South Sudan, the decision to turn off the flow from oil wells that produce 98% of the government's revenue has triggered bursts of defiance and national pride.
Just as war chewed up his country, it gnawed away at Nuer Maker Benjamin's relationship with his father.
From half a world away, the young man knew his father only by reputation: a heroic figure and southern Sudanese independence fighter. As he grew older, relatives urged him to make an effort to get to know the man. ...
For young South Sudanese such as Benjamin who returned from the diaspora in America, Australia, Europe or other parts of Africa, Juba isn't always what they hoped.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Actor and activist George Clooney and his father, journalist Nick Clooney, are arrested for trespassing at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington on Friday. Credit: Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images