Ocean’s 13 cast donate $1 million for Darfur

MUMBAI: Friends of the World Food Program received a $1,000,000 donation from Not On Our Watch, a humanitarian organization co-founded by the all-star cast and the filmmakers of Ocean’s Thirteen.

The governing board of Not On Our Watch includes Ocean’s Thirteen stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Don Cheadle, producer Jerry Weintraub, and David Pressman. Not On Our Watch is a humanitarian organization that aims to support existing Darfur relief efforts and ensure the protection of civilians in the region.

The gift will support the United Nations World Food Program’s (WFP) humanitarian air service in Darfur, Sudan.

WFP relies on helicopters to transport staff to food distributions sites in northern Sudan, primarily in Darfur. The agency’s humanitarian air service has been operating in Sudan since 2004, at the onset of the Darfur crisis when emergency interventions were scaling up in response to the conflict.

The escalating insecurity in Darfur has led WFP to increase its fleet of helicopters from four to six, catering to the demands of the humanitarian community working in war-torn Darfur.

“Humanitarian air services are essential not only for WFP but also other UN agencies and humanitarian organizations working in Darfur. This generous gift will allow WFP to expand the critical delivery of relief assistance to the millions affected by conflict in the region,” said Friends of WFP president and CEO Karen Sendelback.

“Every aid organization working in Darfur relies on World Food Program planes and helicopters to access otherwise inaccessible villages in Darfur. These people are the first to arrive and the last to leave. We are honored to support their important work to save lives in Darfur,” said actor George Clooney, board member and co-founder of Not On Our Watch.

The World Food Program is the world’s largest humanitarian agency, providing food to an average of 90 million poor people each year, including 58 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world’s poorest countries.

In 2007, WFP plans to provide food assistance to 5.5 million vulnerable people in Sudan including people in Darfur, the south, east and Three Areas (Abyei, Blue Nile and South Kordofan).

WFP’s emergency food assistance to populations affected by conflict in Darfur aims to save lives, improve and sustain the nutritional status of vulnerable populations, and promote peace building. Additionally, WFP operations in Sudan play an important role in strengthening recovery and development.