Is celebrity activism helping or hurting Sudan?

The crisis in Sudan may be obscure to many outsiders. But movie star George Clooney is determined that the desperate plight of tens of thousands of people won't be ignored. We take a look at exactly what's happening in Sudan - and South Sudan - and whether celebrity activism is making things any better.



Three of The Current

Is celebrity activism helping or hurting Sudan? - Medecins Sans Frontieres

We started this segment with a clip from George Clooney at a rally in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington last week. Clooney spent a brief period in jail for crossing a police line. The actor is famous for his passion for the refugees fleeing violence, famine and persecution in Sudan. And earlier this month, he slipped into Sudan illegally. He told the US congress he witnessed a campaign of murder conducted by one of the greatest war criminals of the century.

Much of the violence is along ethnic lines and appears to involve a struggle for control of the oil resources in the southern part of Sudan. The Sudanese government denies it's involved in the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, but hundreds of thousands of Sudanese are nevertheless fleeing their homes. Many are crossing the border into South Sudan ... the world's newest independent country, which seceded from Sudan last year.

Evan Atar is a Sudanese doctor who helps run a clinic near the border between South Sudan and Sudan. He uses his car as an ambulance to move medical supplies and transport the wounded. He explained to freelance journalist Jared Ferrie just how intense the violence has become.

Julien Matter is Medecins Sans Frontieres' Emergency Coordinator in South Sudan. He works at two refugee camps operated by MSF now inhabited by about 80-thousand Sudanese. We reached him this morning in Maban County, South Sudan.

Is celebrity activism helping or hurting Sudan? - Human Rights Activist

It would be understating things to say relations between South Sudan and Sudan are complicated. In that vast border region are three restive Sudanese states ... South Kordofan, Blue Nile and the area commonly known as the Nuba Mountains.

To help us understand the region's complex geography and politics, we were joined by Abdalmageed Haroun. He is a Sudanese human rights activist who knows the abuses of the Omar al-Bashir regime all too well. Abdalmageed Haroun is now based in New York City, and he was in our studio there.

Is celebrity activism helping or hurting Sudan? - Journalist

George Clooney didn't exactly get the red-carpet treatment when he was arrested outside Sudan's embassy in Washington last week -- but he did put the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and Sudan in the headlines.

Our next guest thinks Clooney should stick to making movies, not political statements. Rob Crilly is the Pakistan correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, and he's the author of Saving Darfur: Everyone's Favourite African War. He recently wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph called Never mind Kony, let's Stop Clooney. Rob Crilly was in Islamabad, Pakistan.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Hassan Santur and Alisha Parchment.

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Last Word - General Charles Gordon

We've been talking this morning about the refugee crisis in Sudan. History buffs may note some 19th century parallels. A revolt in the 1880s by a Muslim cleric threatened Egyptians and Europeans living in Sudan. Britain felt it should do something, but didn't want a war.

There were no film stars then, but a great Victorian celebrity was asked to see what he could do. General Charles Gordon was able to rescue some women and children before Khartoum fell. His death inspired an Empire -- and a movie. The 1966 film Khartoum starred Charlton Heston as General Gordon.

On today's Last word, here's the British Prime Minister urging Gordon to make a difference. As Mark Twain said, History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.


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