CAFOD is calling on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to step up the pressure on the Sudanese government to bring peace to the war torn region of Darfur when he visits Khartoum today. His visit comes at a pivotal time for Sudan as the country works toward a lasting peace between the North and South at the same time as ongoing conflict in the Darfur region in the west continues to force people from their homes. Only last week, CAFOD partners working in South Darfur reported up to 5000 people being driven from their homes by fighting. Many arrived over three days ago into camps that are already struggling to cope with the numbers of terrified villagers seeking safety. Amelia Bookstein, CAFOD's Conflict Analyst who visited Darfur recently, said: "Insecurity is the number one problem faced by the two million people affected by the crisis. Every day more people are being forced from their homes, whilst humanitarian access to help those in need is hampered by the volatility of the region. "Only last week in his speech to the labour party conference the Prime Minister spoke of the shame that so many human beings live and die in misery when we know together we could stop it. His visit to Sudan will be the first time he has a chance to put those sentiments into action - the Prime Minister must not let this opportunity pass." In order to save further lives being needlessly lost, CAFOD calls upon the Prime Minister to press the Sudanese government to: - Facilitate the swift deployment of the 3000 additional African Union troops accepted last week by the Sudanese government. These troops must be properly equipped and trained to protect civilians in Darfur. - Accelerate the entry of many more international human rights monitors throughout the region in order to better monitor the situation and deter future abuses. The current deployment of monitors is entirely inadequate to cover a region the size of France. - Work with the international community to ensure that any remaining obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian relief are minimised now. - Substantially disarm the militias who have committed human rights abuses, and work with the international community to ensure that those responsible for crimes against humanity are brought to justice. It is also important for the UK Government and the International Community to press on both the Sudanese Government and the rebels their responsibilities under humanitarian law to protect civilians, despite any upsurge in fighting. The UN estimates that the crisis is costing 10,000 lives a month through malnutrition, disease and violence and it has described it as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.
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