George Clooney travels to Chad for U.N. trip

Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:53pm EST
 
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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - George Clooney traveled to Chad on Tuesday as a U.N. "messenger of peace" after spending time in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, U.N. sources said.

Clooney, appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to promote U.N. peacekeeping efforts, had been in Darfur for two days.

The actor's outspoken views on the conflict, which he has called genocide, prompted the United Nations to keep his visit low-key. Interview requests were turned down and media were not allowed to film the star.

Some U.N. sources had said the actor, a nominee for this year's best actor Oscar for his role in the legal thriller "Michael Clayton," had initially decided not to travel to Chad.

A U.N. source in Chad connected with Clooney's visit said the actor had arrived in the country's capital N'Djamena on Tuesday.

Clooney last visited Chad and Sudan in 2006.

Chad hosts about 240,000 Darfur refugees who have fled their homes since fighting broke out in 2003, when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against Sudan's central government, accusing it of neglect.

To quell the revolt, Khartoum mobilized mainly Arab Janjaweed militia, who now stand accused of atrocities.

Washington called the conflict genocide in 2004, a term European governments are reluctant to use and which Khartoum rejects.

International experts estimate some 200,000 have died with 2.5 million driven from their homes. Sudan says 9,000 have perished.

(Reporting by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Matthew Jones)

 
<p>George Clooney arrives at the National Board Of Review of Motion Pictures awards gala in New York January 15, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>