George Clooney is speaking out about the famine in South Sudan, calling it a “government-made” crisis.
Clooney, writing in a Washington Post op-ed with John Prendergast, his co-founder of the investigative initiative The Sentry, urges leaders to address the famine, target the root causes of the crisis in South Sudan, and make those responsible and profiting from human suffering in that country pay for their crimes.
“Official, U.N.-declared famines are a rare phenomenon,” wrote Clooney. "The last one worldwide was six years ago, in Somalia. Famines are declared officially when people have already begun to starve to death. It is the diplomatic equivalent of a seven-alarm fire. That is where the youngest country in the world, South Sudan, finds itself today, as 100,000 face immediate starvation and another 1 million are on its brink.
“The most immediate cause lies in the tactics used by the South Sudan government and its principal rebel opponent in fighting the current civil war. Government and rebel forces attack civilian targets much more frequently than they attack each other. They target the means of survival of civilian populations deemed to be unsupportive.
“In South Sudan today, war crimes pay. There is no accountability for the atrocities and looting of state resources, or for the famine that results…There has been no effort to counter the networks that benefit financially and politically from the crisis. The international community needs to help make war costlier than peace for government and rebel leaders and their international facilitators.”
In September 2016, The Sentry released a ground-breaking investigative report “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay: Stopping the looting and destruction in South Sudan.” The report exposed massive wealth accumulated by South Sudan’s President and other officials who oversaw a military offensive that contributed to the current famine. The report found that immediate family members of these officials enjoy luxurious lifestyles abroad, living in lavish estates while South Sudanese suffer.
Read the full op-ed by Clooney and Prendergast in the Washington Post.