This post originally appeared on Change.org's Human Right blog.
From Secretary Clinton, to the Director of National Intelligence, to President Obama, everyone is saying that Sudan is at-risk of becoming one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. “I’m just trying to say it as loud as possible,” said George Clooney this week, fresh from a trip to southern Sudan with my boss, the Enough Project’s John Prendergast. From meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill, to more than a dozen media appearances, Clooney certainly did just that.
His message is one of prevention, which is often a hard sell when the U.S. government faces many pressing challenges worldwide:
Any time there’s the danger of people being killed, we’re too slow. (…) We were late in the Congo, we were late in North-South [Sudan] before, we were late in Darfur, we were late in Rwanda; we’ve been late. And we show up three years later, and we’ll do fundraisers; we’ll spend a billion dollars. (…)The hope is that this time we can be there before and not just have to mop up the mess after.
But after a week-long trip to southern Sudan, notably to Abyei – a contested region on the North-South border which could be the scene of renewed violence – Clooney’s call to action is gaining traction.
Speaking to the press at the Council on Foreign Relations Tuesday, Clooney described the meeting he and Prendergast held with President Obama. “You could feel the energy when we walked in that room," Clooney said. "It's palpable in the room – it's, 'let's get on with this.' In the middle of a very political season, [Obama] is involved.”
To give President Obama and other U.S. elected officials the backing they need to stay engaged in Sudan during the final three months before the vote, Clooney has been pushing the advocacy website SudanActionNow.org, which currently hosts a letter calling on President Obama to “do all you can” to prevent a return to war. More than 25,000 people have sent the letter to President Obama so far and numbers are increasing rapidly with no sign of slowing down.
Capitalizing on the wave of attention to Sudan this week following all of the Clooney-related media, the student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network, STAND, successfully waged a Facebook and Twitter blitz to propel their Sudan question high on the list of topics President Obama would address on MTV’s Obama Townhall. Sudan is “one of our highest priorities,” President Obama said. He highlighted the invaluable role students played in putting the Darfur conflict on the map and urged students to keep the pressure on their members of Congress to be involved in Sudan ahead of the southern referendum.
Click here to continue reading.