WASHINGTON – Academy Award-winning actor George Clooney told PJM he supports the refugee camp located near his home in Lake Como, which has been the subject of complaints from locals.
Clooney’s reaction marked the first time the actor and political activist commented on the refugee camp.
PJM asked Clooney on Monday if he supports the camp near his home in Italy that is currently housing about 300 refugees.
“Well, I support refugee camps, of course,” he responded following a press conference at the National Press Club about the findings of a report on corruption within the South Sudan government funding atrocities.
In July, locals complained that the town does not have the resources to handle the added influx of refugees and that the camp could hurt tourism. The town ceased to be merely a waypoint for migrating refugees because Switzerland closed its border. Migrants who set up makeshift camps around the train station are being moved to a walled camp that can accommodate up to 300 people in pre-fabricated shacks. According to the Daily Mail, town officials have said the refugee camp could remain in the area for many years.
“It will be used for as long as it needs to be,” a spokesman for the Lake Como town council said.
Clooney, who previously hosted a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was also asked for his reaction to her collapsing in New York City on Sunday when leaving a 9/11 ceremony.
“I hope that’s she well,” Clooney said.
According to reporter David Shuster, the Democratic National Committee is planning to host an “emergency” meeting to consider a possible replacement for Clinton following the incident.
“Oh, yeah, I’m sure that’s true,” Clooney commented sarcastically.
“When George Bush, Sr., passed out in 1992 in the Japanese prime minister’s lap, I think everyone just said, ‘I hope he’s well.’ Isn’t that what we said?” he added.
Bush vomited on then-Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa at a Jan. 8, 1992, banquet. Miyazawa “cradled his head for some minutes until Mr. Bush was strong enough to get up on his own,” the New York Times reported at the time. “One person who attended the dinner and saw the incident at close range said the president ‘turned white as a sheet,’ rolled his head to the left, and was clearly fainting before being helped to the floor.” The White House said Bush had stomach flu.
Clooney was in Washington for a press conference focused on a report that resulted from a two-year investigation of the South Sudan government conducted by The Sentry, which is an investigative initiative co-founded by activist John Prendergast and Clooney. The Enough Project and Not On Our Watch collaborated on the report, titled “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay.” Not on Our Watch is an organization co-founded by actor Don Cheadle.
Prendergast, Clooney and Cheadle are scheduled to discuss their report with President Obama at the White House. Clooney said the report provides evidence of South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s “massive criminal behavior.”
“The evidence is thorough, it is detailed and it is irrefutable. It involves arms dealers, international lawyers, international banks, international real estate – and it is because of these international actors that we are also able to provide solutions to help end this criminal behavior to protect innocent civilians,” Clooney said.
Clooney pointed out that the U.S. has given $1.5 billion in aid to South Sudan. Clooney said the amount of aid shows that both America and the international community recognize South Sudan cannot become a “failed state.”
“We can either take action now or we can spend the next decade mopping up the mess,” he said.
Prendergast, founding director of the Enough Project, said both he and Clooney support an arms embargo on South Sudan to help quell the violence happening there such as rape and mass killings.
“What’s missing is international leverage,” he said. “South Sudan’s leaders no longer take seriously the threats made by the United States and others to impose consequences.”
According to the report, “the leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties manipulate and exploit ethnic divisions in order to drum up support for a conflict that serves the interests only of the top leaders of these two kleptocratic networks and, ultimately, the international facilitators whose services the networks utilize and on which they rely.”