Cardinal joins faith leaders in prayers for Darfur at Downing Street

 Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor was among leaders from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths who took part in prayers for peace outside Downing Street yesterday, as part of an international day of action. Vigils also took place in New York, Abuja, London, Nairobi, Paris, Berlin, Kigali and a string of other major cities. The Cardinal said: "The situation is catastrophic in terms of the violence, the murders, the displacement of people." A prayer from Archbishop Desmond Tutu - written with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra - remembered not only the victims but the perpetrators. "We pray that those who causing misery and death in Darfur will turn away from racism and violence - may they be forgiven when they turn to You instead." A message was also been sent from the Catholic Bishop of El Obeid, whose diocese includes Darfur. The group was met by Baroness Amos, Leader of the House of Lords, who said the world must not once again turn a blind eye to an unfolding crisis in Africa. Tens of thousands of people have died and up to two million have been displaced since the conflct began in 2003, when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government. Pressure is mounting on Sudan to admit UN peacekeepers, with Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett preparing for a week of talks at the UN in New York. But the Sudanese government has resisted the presence of an African Union force in the region and when their mandate runs out shortly, is refusing to allow a handover to United Nations peacekeepers. Prime Minister Tony Blair has written to every state in the EU to press for an end to violence in Darfur in western Sudan. Mr Blair said the EU should play a "central role" in peace efforts and that the Sudanese government should prepare to face isolation if it failed to respond to diplomatic pressure to end the "slaughter". "We should strongly call upon the government of Sudan and non-signatories alike to stop immediately the violence in northern Darfur," he wrote in the letter.

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