The United Nations announced that it was looking into allegations that the world body pulled the actor’s security detail while he was, and still is, travelling through a lawless region of Chad. The move was alleged to be a preemptive measure to prevent Clooney from voicing critical, and potentially inflammatory, opinions of the region’s leadership.
While Clooney is a U.N. “messenger of peace,” he has been travelling unofficially in the African nation with New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof and, on and off, with NBC News’ Ann Curry.
Kristof noted the security abandonment in his column published yesterday, though U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas was quick to address the claim, saying that the U.N. did not provide security for anyone in the region and instead relied on local organisations for assistance.
She also noted that Clooney did not go to Chad as part of any U.N. initiative, instead travelling to the dangerous, humanitarian-weary area of his own accord, though added that they are “still trying to ascertain the facts.”
It seems the ones spelled out by Kristof weren’t clear-cut enough.
The reporter claimed that the U.N. issued what amounted to a (potentially life-threatening) gag order in an attempt to keep the peace. With the International Criminal Court working up to a formal indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the man deemed most responsible for the Darfur crisis, the region is at a flashpoint.
“Apparently they were concerned that Mr. Clooney might say something strongly critical of Mr. Bashir; perhaps come down on genocide? The United Nations called me on Wednesday to say that effective immediately it was pulling Mr. Clooney’s security escort as he traveled these roads along the border,” Kristof wrote.
“Now that did seem petty and mean-spirited…the U.N. requires a military escort for its own vehicles here,” he continued, before levelling a particularly harsh criticism against the organisation.
“If the U.N. is too craven to protect its own goodwill ambassadors, because they might criticise genocide, it’s not surprising that it and the international community fail to protect hundreds of thousands of voiceless Darfuris.”