Juba, Sudan American actor George Clooney is visiting the little known region of Southern Sudan. The U.N. Security Council arrived to a raucous welcome on Wednesday, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also made a recent trip here.
The high-level visits are putting the spotlight on the Texas-sized area of Sudan that is far less known to Americans than the western region of Darfur, where mass atrocities have been committed over the last decade.
Southern Sudan is three months from a Jan. 9 independence vote that could see Africa’s largest country break in two. The vote — and the potential of a new north-south war because of it — are the reason behind the rash of visits.
“If you knew a tsunami, or Katrina or a Haiti earthquake was coming, what would you do to save people?” Clooney said, according to a blog post by Ann Curry, a reporter for NBC who is accompanying Clooney.
Clooney spent the past week traveling to remote, conflict-prone areas of Sudan’s south with John Prendergast, the founder of the Enough Project, an anti-genocide advocacy group.