George Clooney released after Sudan embassy arrest

George Clooney: 'We were all in a cell together. It was nice"

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George Clooney has been arrested for civil disobedience during a demonstration outside Sudan's embassy in Washington DC on Friday.

The actor was taking part in a protest to warn of a humanitarian crisis in the volatile border area between Sudan and South Sudan.

He was detained alongside his father, Nick, but both have now been released after paying bail of $100 (£63).

George Clooney is a keen Sudan activist and has visited the area several times.

South Sudan celebrated its independence from Sudan in 2011, but relations between the two neighbours have worsened since then.

The country is one of the world's poorest regions and has hardly any roads, railways, schools or clinics as a result of two decades of conflict leading up to independence from Sudan in July 2011.

Bitter disagreements remain over oil resources and borders, with conflict raging in the border region - the focus for Clooney's concern.

'We hope it helps'

Speaking to reporters following his release, Clooney said his key concern was the fate of those in the region.

"Best estimate is tens of thousands of people are going to die from starvation... this isn't a famine, this is a man-made tragedy by the government of Khartoum to get these people to leave."

"You never know if you are accomplishing anything... We hope it helps," Clooney said.

George Clooney gives evidence to US Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The actor said the arrest was his first, but added: "Let's hope it's my last."

The Hollywood star, his father and fellow activists had been led away in handcuffs after reportedly ignoring repeated police warnings to leave the embassy grounds.

He was released three hours later after paying the bail fee.

Secret Service spokesman George Oglivie told the BBC how the arrest unfolded: "George Clooney was arrested for crossing a police line at the Sudan embassy and he'll be transported to the Metropolitan police department second district."

Also arrested, said Mr Oglivie, were Martin Luther King III, son of the civil rights leader; Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern; Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran; and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Ben Jealous.

George Clooney's arrest comes a day after he met President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss the Sudan situation.

Ahead of the rally, he said he thought the president was "very engaged" on the issue of Sudan.

Clooney also called on the Sudanese government to allow humanitarian aid in to the area immediately and to "stop randomly killing its own innocent men, women and children".

The actor recently secretly travelled across the border to the Nuba Mountains in Sudan, where his group apparently witnessed a rocket attack. A YouTube video of the visit was uploaded on Thursday.

He told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week that what was happening in the region was "ominously similar" to the violence in Darfur.

The UN estimates that nearly 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million been displaced since the Darfur conflict broke out in 2003.

Map showing position of oilfileds in Sudan, source: Drilling info international

Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.

Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa

Although they were united for many years, the two Sudans were always very different. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

Map showing Ethnicity of Sudan, source:

Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.

Map showing infant Mortality in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The health inequalities in Sudan are illustrated by infant mortality rates. In South Sudan, one in 10 children die before their first birthday. Whereas in the more developed northern states, such as Gezira and White Nile, half of those children would be expected to survive.

Map showing percentage of households using improved water and sanitation in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The gulf in water resources between north and south is stark. In Khartoum, River Nile, and Gezira states, two-thirds of people have access to piped drinking water and pit latrines. In the south, boreholes and unprotected wells are the main drinking sources. More than 80% of southerners have no toilet facilities whatsoever.

Map showing percentage of who complete primary school education in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Throughout the two Sudans, access to primary school education is strongly linked to household earnings. In the poorest parts of the south, less than 1% of children finish primary school. Whereas in the wealthier north, up to 50% of children complete primary level education.

Map showing percentage of households with poor food consumption in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Conflict and poverty are the main causes of food insecurity in both countries. In Sudan, many of the residents of war-affected Darfur and the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, depend on food aid. The UN said about 2.8m people in South Sudan would require food aid in 2013. The northern states tend to be wealthier, more urbanised and less reliant on agriculture.

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