WASHINGTON – Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager portrayed in the movie "Hotel Rwanda," (search) told President Bush on Thursday that the situation in Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur (search) region mirrors the genocide he survived in Rwanda a decade ago.
"What is going on in Darfur is exactly what was going on in Rwanda (search)," said Rusesabagina, who says he wants to work with the president to raise awareness about world crises.
Rusesabagina, who now runs a heavy-duty transport business in Zambia, hid 1,268 people in the hotel he was managing to keep them safe from Hutu extremist militias and soldiers who killed more than 500,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in 1994.
Bush and his wife, Laura, met with Rusesabagina and his wife, Tatiana, for about 20 minutes. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush was moved by the movie and asked to meet with Rusesabagina when he heard he'd be in town. National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, White House chief of staff Andy Card and a National Security Council specialist on Africa also attended.
The United Nations human rights chief on Wednesday urged the Security Council to immediately refer abuses in Darfur to the International Criminal Court. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for "urgent action" to end the violence in the vast region in western Sudan.
Rusesabagina recently went to Darfur with a delegation that included five U.S. congressmen and actor Don Cheadle (search), who portrays him in "Hotel Rwanda." "We saw how children and their parents sleep on the Sahara sand, which is a kind of shame to humanity," he said.
The United Nations has called Darfur the world's worst humanitarian crisis, saying the conflict has claimed 70,000 lives since March — mostly from disease and hunger.
"The rest of the world failed when the genocide was taking place in Rwanda," Rusesabagina said, adding that U.N. soldiers inspired hope when they first arrived.
"Then the (U.N.) soldiers ran away and left us on our own," he said. "Today, there is no one who is intervening really in a good way in Darfur. Darfur is left on its own."