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George Clooney and Don Cheadle get peace award for raising awareness on humanitarian crisis in Darfur

George Clooney and Don Cheadle were given a peace award for their efforts to raise awareness on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

"We do concerts, rallies, where thousands of people show up and say how terrible it is," Clooney told a news conference. "But the truth is not one single thing has changed. Now it's time to turn that corner."

The actors have raised money and attention to stop a conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives and uprooted 2.5 million people since ethnic African rebels took up arms against Sudan's Arab-dominated government in 2003.

On Thursday, they asked world leaders to provide helicopters for a joint U.N.-African union peacekeeping force scheduled to take over security in the Sudanese region later this month. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for the aircraft, which he said are critical to protect both military personnel and civilians.

"If we get 24 helicopters in there we can protect 4 million people," Clooney said. "If they are lucky enough to escape rape, torture, murder ... and survive malaria and AIDS and starvation, (they) should at least have the chance to live."

The two - co-stars in the "Ocean's" installments - were presented with a bronze statue by Italian sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi. Organizers credited "their efforts to pacify the tormented region of Darfur and help save lives."

The ceremony marked the opening of a yearly meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates organized at the city hall by a foundation headed by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The meeting gathered Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama and other Nobel winners.

Clooney, accompanied by girlfriend Sarah Larson, was treated to the breathtaking view of the Roman Forum from the office of the Rome Mayor, Walter Veltroni. Clooney has a house at Lake Como and often travels to Italy.

Clooney and Cheadle co-founded a humanitarian organization called Not On Our Watch together with other stars, including Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, to focus global attention on the plight of Darfur's people. They have raised more than US$9.3 million (6.3 million EUR) for humanitarian efforts in the region.

"These people need help and protection; but they do have hope," Cheadle said.

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