VIDEO: George Clooney, Just Back From Sudan, Testifies at Senate Hearing, Clarifies Joseph Kony Remarks
Update: The actor/director presented findings from Satellite Sentinel Project, which watches over the war-torn region and spoke to news outlets, as well.
Now that he's done stumping for awards, George Clooney can really get down to work.
The Descendants star spoke at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday morning, where he testified on a panel entitled Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity. The group will address the tensions that have flared between the two nations before and since the South's secession last July.
Clooney will presented findings from his Satellite Sentinel Project, an organization he founded in late 2010 that uses satellite technology to monitor the region in real time, keeping a watchful eye out for conflict and rights abuses. Sudan's aggression and human rights violations preciptiated the split, and the official recognition of the new nation has not stopped Sudan's president Omar Al-Bashir's incessant attacks.
On Tuesday, Clooney spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York about Al-Bashir and the Sudan. The two days of testimony comes following Clooney's post-Oscar trip to the region, where he crossed the Nuba Mountains into South Sudan to take in the continuing damage wrought by Sudan's war.
"We saw that very specifically happening on two occasions: rape, starvation, lack of humanitarian aid," he told CFR on Tuesday. "They're scaring the hell out of these people and they're killing, hoping and trying to get them just to leave."
In fact, Clooney told ABC News that the clip of him in the Kony 2012 video in which he said that he hoped Joseph Kony, the Ugandan warlord, became as famous as he was came from a discussion Clooney had been having about Al-Bashir. When he returned from the Sudan, Clooney said, he was inundated with messages about the Kony video, in which he did not realize he had been featured.
Stil, he was happy that Kony, whom he called a war criminal, was having his crimes exposed.
The star has made a number of trips to the war-torn nation, each one of them a risk to his health and safety.
"Everything about it is difficult, and you never feel safe, and we are not traveling with guns and security guys," he recently told The Hollywood Reporter about the excursions, recalling a time he was stopped by 13-year-old children with guns before a colleague was able to swat them away.
Clooney has been an active advocate for the cause for years; he first traveled to Darfur in 2006 to assess the humanitarian crises there, after which he spoke at the United Nations to urge intervention to stop the genocide. He runs the Not on Our Watch organization, which works to spread awareness of and end the killings, and he has not only risked his life for the cause, he's sacrificed his health too, contracting malaria during a 2011 trip.