Monday 5 December 2016

Clooney recalls struggles of his Irish ancestors

Joe Nerssessian

Published 25/04/2016 | 02:30

Refugees are "people, just like you and me", Hollywood star George Clooney has said in a speech urging humanity to do more to help those escaping war and persecution.

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The Oscar-winning actor opened up over his own ancestors' struggles in fleeing the famine in Ireland and called on people to believe they can make a difference.

"The simple truth is that all of us here tonight, are the result of someone's act of kindness. We all stand on the shoulders of good people who didn't look away when we were in need," Clooney said during a speech at a humanitarian conference in Yerevan, Armenia.

He added: "The Clooney family fled a famine in Ireland to come to the United States where their very survival required a room, a meal, a helping hand.

Famine

"We call them refugees, but they're just people, like you and me. And if you stand right in front of them and take a look deep into their eyes, you might just see an Irish farmer fleeing a famine.

"If we are to survive as a people we simply can't look away. Not from the people of Syria or South Sudan or the Congo."

Actor George Clooney attends the laying of the flowers at a genocide memorial in Yerevan. Photo: Getty Images
Actor George Clooney attends the laying of the flowers at a genocide memorial in Yerevan. Photo: Getty Images

According to UN data, 4.8 million people have fled Syria since civil war broke out in 2011.

Clooney was in Armenia as part of the Aurora Prize - an award held to recognise those who put themselves at risk to save the lives of others.

The actor has previously produced documentaries on the Darfur conflict in Sudan and on Saturday said he combated the "suffocation" of fame with human rights activism.

Irish Independent

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