Actor George Clooney seeks to expose funding of Africa conflicts
By Esme Bright
LONDON, July 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Hollywood actor George Clooney launched an initiative on Monday to track down and help bring to justice those funding and profiting from Africa's deadliest conflicts in a bid to fight corruption in war zones.
Clooney joined forces with U.S. human rights activist John Prendergast in a project called The Sentry that aims to investigate the flow of money in and out of conflict zones and give policymakers the tools to take effective action.
Using data collection, field research and analysis technology, the initiative plans to expose how conflict is financed and profits laundered, with a website encouraging people to anonymously submit leaks and tips.
Clooney, 54, a campaigner who has led drives to highlight the plight of refugees in Sudan, and Prendergast said the aim was to "deny war profiteers the proceeds from their crimes".
"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," two-time Oscar winner Clooney said in a statement.
The initiative, launched days before U.S. President Barack Obama visits Africa, will probe the financing of conflicts from northeast to central Africa, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, and South Sudan.
It comes after figures from the think tank Project for the Study of the 21st Century earlier this year found the death toll in the world's most brutal conflicts climbed by more than 28 percent in 2014, with five African countries among the 10 deadliest nations.
This is not the first time that Clooney and Prendergast, a former Africa director at the U.S. National Security Council who founded the Enough Project in 2007, have worked together.
They united in 2010 on the Satellite Sentinel Project, which used satellites to map evidence of human rights abuses.
The Sentry also has the backing of Not On Our Watch, an organisation that Clooney co-founded with other actors including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle. (Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)
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