(WASHINGTON) — Actor and activist George Clooney visited the White House Thursday to lobby the president on the plight of the people in South Sudan.
“The good news is we feel like there is a commitment at a very high level,” Clooney told reporters at the White House after his meeting with President Obama.
Clooney said he pressed the president on the need to open a humanitarian corridor to allow aid to reach the south before the rainy season begins.
“These are not people who have been suffering a drought and suddenly need our help,” he said. “These are people who farm this land and have lived there — they are the oldest society in the world — they have survived a lot of things. Right now their villages have been burned, their crops have been burned. It is too late to grow any crop in order to survive the rainy season.”
Clooney said that the president plans to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao in the coming weeks and that efforts to stop the violence in Sudan will be one of the topics they discuss.
China has new economic incentives to get involved in the effort, Clooney explained. The violence is shutting down oil production, cutting off some of China’s supply.
Asked about the viral Kony 2012 video, which aims to bring attention to accused war criminal Joseph Kony, Clooney, who has been traveling and hasn’t yet seen the video, said “anytime you are making the names of people who are charged for war crimes famous, I think that’s good.”
Clooney brought his message to Capitol Hill this week, where he called for tougher economic sanctions and increased diplomatic pressure on the Sudanese government to stop committing “war crimes” against civilians.
Clooney was joined at the White House by John Prendergast, founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project, an organization that uses satellite imagery to monitor Southern Sudan. The group hopes to use the images as evidence of the atrocities in Sudan to raise the level of protection and bring those responsible to justice.
The actor, who has donated money to Obama’s campaign, also attended the State Dinner at the White House Wednesday night, where he sat next to first lady Michelle Obama.
Asked about Obama’s chances for re-election, Clooney said “I hope they’re very good. I’m a Democrat and a supporter of the president. I hope he has a successful election.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Steve Almasy, CNN
Roshni Majumdar, CNN
Sarah Anderson, Deseret News