Clooney aims to shine celebrity light on U.N.

Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:19pm EST
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By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Academy Award winning actor George Clooney became a U.N. messenger of peace on Thursday, pledging to use his fame to "shine a light" on peacekeeping efforts, particularly in Sudan's Darfur.

But Clooney was blocked from delivering a message on his recent trip to Darfur in western Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo to a meeting of nations contributing peacekeeping troops.

Diplomats said several countries including Russia had objected to his presence as inappropriate.

Instead, Clooney delivered the message to a news conference. "The message is the world is watching and that at this point we cannot afford to fail," he said.

"Millions are homeless, not from famine or disease or acts of God, but from a well armed militia intent on ridding the land of its people."

With fellow actors Don Cheadle and Brad Pitt, Clooney,46, has used his celebrity status to raise money for refugees through their "Not On Our Watch" charity and draw attention to the crisis in Darfur.

The United Nations is trying to deploy a peacekeeping force in Darfur, where experts say some 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million driven from their homes in fighting between Sudan's government and rebels.

"We tend to not get to see enough of what we need to see anymore," said Clooney, who last month was honored along with Cheadle by Nobel peace laureates for their Darfur efforts.   Continued...

<p>George Clooney attends a news conference to discuss his recent trip to conflict zones in Africa after being designated a United Nations Messenger of Peace at the United Nations in New York January 31, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>