Clooney targets the financers of wars in Africa
Hollywood actor George Clooney yesterday launched an initiative aimed at ending conflicts in Africa by tracking the money that fuels them.
The Sentry, founded by Clooney and John Prendergast of an advocacy group called the Enough Project, will probe the financing of conflicts in South Sudan, Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause," the 54-year-old Oscar winner, who has a long history as an advocate for peace in Sudan and South Sudan, said.
Prendergast, a former Africa director at the US National Security Council turned human rights activist, said "conventional tools of diplomacy" had so far failed and "new efforts must centre on how to make war more costly than peace".
"The objective of The Sentry is to follow the money and deny those war profiteers the proceeds from their crimes," said Prendergast.
In 2010, Clooney and Prendergast initiated the Satellite Sentinel Project, using satellites to map evidence of conflict and human rights abuses on the ground.
At that time, the fear was of war between Khartoum and Juba as the south of Sudan prepared for its independence in July 2011.
But in late 2013, civil war broke out inside the new nation of South Sudan and the satellite project was left largely redundant.
The Sentry's goal is to "dismantle the networks of perpetrators, facilitators and enablers who fund and profit from Africa's deadliest conflicts". Participants include C4ADS, a Washington-based nonprofit research organisation, and activist group Not On Our Watch, co-founded by Clooney and other Hollywood actors Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt.
The group hopes a focus on "economic enablers" - identifying the banks, businessmen, investors and corrupt officials who launder gains and connect corrupt politicians and militiamen to financial markets - will provide new pressure to end long-running conflicts in Africa.