George Clooney reveals his family fled to the US as refugees
'We call them refugees, but they’re just people, like you and me,' says the American actor
George Clooney has called on the world to do more to help those fleeing conflict and persecution, asserting that refugees are “people, just like you and me”.
The 54-year-old Oscar-award winning actor revealed his own family's difficult plight to escape Ireland’s famine in the 19th century.
Speaking at a humanitarian conference in Yerevan in Armenia, the American actor and director urged the public to express empathy with those escaping war-torn countries.
“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.
“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. 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.”
During the ceremony, Clooney also urged the world to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. 1.5 million Armenian people were murdered in 1915 in what is seen as the first massacre of the 20th century. Although Turkey rejects the label of genocide and profoundly disputes the figures, arguing the death toll has been exaggerated.
In his first visit to Armenia, Clooney also attended a memorial service commemorating the slaughter of the Armenian population alongside the President Serzh Sargsyan.
The actor's wife, Amal Clooney, an international human rights lawyer, has spent time campaigning for the global recognition and understanding of the Armenian genocide.
Clooney has previously taken part in humanitarian activism for Sudan’s Darfur conflict and produced documentaries about the subject.