George Clooney using fame to draw attention to global injustices


George Clooney has said he counteracts the "suffocation" caused by fame by trying to highlight global injustices.

The Oscar-winning actor, who was speaking at an international forum on genocide prevention, said he decided to use his fame to focus attention on those "who couldn't get any cameras on them at all" after reading about atrocities being committed in Sudan's Darfur region in the early 2000s.

He said: "Fame has an interesting element to it but if you tend to be followed round by a camera then you can feel suffocated at times."

George Clooney

"I thought it might be effective if I went to those places and got those cameras to follow me and try and amplify these stories of NGOs who were doing such hard work, such dangerous work."

He has long taken an interest in humanitarian issues and co-founded the international relief charity Not On Our Watch with fellow Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.

The forum is part of a series of events being held in Yerevan, Armenia including discussions around the global refugee and migrant crisis.

He said he felt "lucky" to be born in the United States.

George Clooney

"I was lucky to be born where I was and not born as a young woman who was taken by Boko Haram. It was lucky - luck is genetic and time and place."

"That luck needs to be spread. What I find beautiful about what we're doing this weekend is we're looking at it, we're pointing at it, we're amplifying it. There is an awful lot the world needs, not a handout but a hand-up."

During his visit he will present a one million US dollar (£700,000) prize at a ceremony celebrating individuals who risk their lives for others.

The series of events are being held 101 years to the day that Armenians say the Ottoman Empire began a genocide against their people, causing hundreds of thousands to flee the country as refugees.

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million people were killed, a figure disputed by modern-day Turkey. Turkey strongly disputes claims that the events of 1915 were a genocide.

George and Amal Clooney

His wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, has previously campaigned and worked for international recognition of the Armenian genocide, making her a popular figure amongst Armenians.

He joked that he was in the country as "Amal's husband".

He also rejected claims that films about genocide such as Hotel Rwanda desensitised viewers, and said the 24-hour-news-cycle was more to blame.

However the actor praised news organisations coverage of the death of three-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in September as his family tried to reach Europe, causing global outcry over the refugee crisis.

George and Amal Clooney

"When it matters and when news organisations are very effective is when it is one small boy washed up on the shore, and for a period of time we focused on that and it mattered."

On Sunday he will hand out the inaugural Aurora Prize to one of four individuals that includes a 100,000 US dollar (£70,000) grant as well as the opportunity to nominate an organisation - that has inspired the winner - for a one million dollar award.

Alongside him on the prize selection committee is the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, and the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans.