'Ocean's' stars raise $5.5 mil for Darfur
EmptyUNITED NATIONS -- "Ocean's Thirteen" stars have donated $5.5 million to humanitarian efforts in Sudan's Darfur region, according to George Clooney.
Clooney told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from Rome that he was joined by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and producer Jerry Weintraub in raising $9.3 million for Darfur, most of which was contributed at a dinner during the film's premiere last month at the Festival de Cannes.
Clooney said more than half the money has already been donated to charities dealing with Darfur. He said his group wants to keep emptying and replenishing the coffers of the humanitarian organization they co-founded, called Not on Our Watch, to focus global attention on the plight of the 2.5 million civilians in Darfur who have fled their homes.
"There are only a few things we can do -- protect them where we can, and provide food, water, health care and counseling," he said. "We're just trying to get them to live long enough to get to the next step."
More than 200,000 people have died in the Darfur region of western Sudan since 2003, when local rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government, accusing it of decades of neglect. Sudan's government is accused of unleashing in response a militia of Arab nomads known as the janjaweed -- a charge it denies.
Clooney announced the latest donation from Not on Our Watch -- $1 million to the U.N. World Food Program -- which will be used to help the U.N. agency deliver food and other necessities by helicopter to inaccessible villages in Darfur.
The latest donation raised to $5.5 million the amount that Not on Our Watch has given to humanitarian and relief organizations in Darfur in less than three weeks.
Not on Our Watch's first donation $2.75 million went to the International Rescue Committee. It has also donated $750,000 to the British-based relief agency Oxfam and $1 million to the British-based charity Save the Children.
Clooney said everyone on the board is committed to keep raising awareness and money.
"I have every intention of doing it in other places," he said, and the upcoming film festivals in Venice and Deauville, France "sound like good spots" for fundraising events.