Clooney leads Darfur mission

Times Staff Writer

Stepping up his efforts to raise awareness about the killings in Sudan’s Darfur region, Oscar-winning actor George Clooney this week led a small delegation of activists, among them fellow actor Don Cheadle and two former Olympians, to meet with high-ranking government officials in China.

The group planned to travel from Beijing to Cairo for more talks today, before returning to the United States later in the week.

According to a representative for Clooney, the actor organized the trip to make a personal plea to Chinese and Egyptian officials to use their ties with the Sudanese government to help stop the violence.

Since 2003, about 200,000 people have been killed in an ongoing ethnic conflict in Darfur, a region of western Sudan. Another 2.5 million people have been displaced.


Among those traveling with the actor were Kenyan Olympian Tegla Loroupe, who serves as a United Nations ambassador of sport; American speed skater and gold medal winner Joey Cheek; Cheadle, one of Clooney’s “Ocean’s Eleven” costars; and David Pressman, a human rights lawyer and former aide to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Since visiting Darfur in April with Pressman, Clooney has waged a public campaign -- attending rallies, appearing on talk shows and lobbying politicians -- to push for an end to the violence.

In September, Clooney and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel met with U.N. Security Council members to urge them to act on Darfur.

Clooney asked that an international peacekeeping force be assembled to effectively protect civilians in the region.