Clooney and Cheadle get peace award for Darfur

Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:09pm EST
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By Silvia Aloisi

ROME (Reuters) - Actors George Clooney and Don Cheadle said world leaders must not be allowed to ignore the war in Darfur, as they received an award by Nobel peace laureates for their efforts to help civilians caught up in the conflict.

Together with Brad Pitt, Clooney and Cheadle -- co-stars in "Ocean's Thirteen" -- have used their celebrity status to raise money for refugees through their "Not On Our Watch" charity, and make sure Darfur's "continuing carnage" is not forgotten.

Experts estimate 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million uprooted in the Sudanese region's conflict, which started in 2003 and pits mostly non-Arab rebel groups against the Khartoum government and Arab militias.

Ceasefires have been agreed only to fall apart, and plans to send 26,000 United Nations peacekeepers have been thrown into doubt because of restrictions imposed by Khartoum and the failure by Western states to provide helicopters.

"We have an American election coming so this is the time to put pressure on American candidates, because believe me none of these people want to talk about this issue," Clooney said at a press conference in Rome after receiving the Peace Summit Award.

"None of them want to deal with this issue, so right now is the time to place pressure on the people who can actually affect change because we can't," he said.

Clooney, the son of a TV journalist, said the media also had a vital role to play and took issue with the extensive coverage given to the British teacher briefly jailed in Sudan last month for allowing her class to name a teddy bear Mohammed.

"A young woman was threatened with forty lashes and six months in jail and it was in the front page of every newspaper for a week in England and America.   Continued...

<p>U.S. actors George Clooney and Don Cheadle (L) attend a ceremony for the 2007 Peace Summit Award at the city hall in Rome December 13, 2007. Clooney and Cheadle received the award from Nobel peace prize laureates for their campaign to help the people of Sudan's Darfur region after 4-1/2 years of war. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli</p>