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UNICEF Ambassador Mia Farrow Sees Darfur Violence Spreading


Actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow says violence in Sudan's Darfur region has spilled into eastern Chad, affecting thousands of civilians. Farrow just returned from a trip to the region, where she heard personal accounts from victims of atrocities.

Mia Farrow told reporters at a news conference that her trip made it clear to her that the war in Darfur has spread. "I mean I am just here to tell you Darfur has no real borders and the genocide in Darfur has arrived and is well established in eastern Chad and Central African Republic," she said.

Farrow visited several villages in Chad, including Tamadjour and the town of Goz Beida. While there, she listened to harrowing stories of rape, torched villages and attacks that, according to witnesses she interviewed, were committed by Chadian and Darfur-based Janjaweed militias. She told reporters that 60 villages in eastern Chad were burned in the second week of November, causing thousands of local Chadians to flee. "What we saw along the roadside were clusters of people, surviving burnt villages and atrocities that were described, I mean, mutilations and rapes and people suffering unimaginably, just dazed and not knowing where to go or what would happen to them," she said.

She traveled with David Rubenstein, executive director of the Save Darfur Coalition - made up of 175 organizations working to raise awareness about the Darfur conflict. Rubenstein echoed Farrow's statement that the conflict raging in eastern Chad, where some 200,000 Darfur refugees are now living in camps, is similar to the genocidal violence that erupted nearly four years ago in Darfur. "There is great suffering and sadness and destruction and evil taking place in Chad now. People who left Darfur thought they would be safe in Chad. The violence has increased in Chad and the Darfurian refugees are not safe there either, nor are the Chadian people," he said.

Farrow and the Save Darfur Coalition are calling for action in Darfur, eastern Chad as well as the Central African Republic, another victim of the violence that began in Darfur. "I do not see any other solution than an international United Nation's peacekeeping force to come into eastern Chad urgently. Such a force must also be in Central African Republic and we have long hoped that such a force could be put into Darfur as well. It's past time," she said.

Farrow said the terrified women she met said what they wanted most of all, even more than their need for food for themselves and their children, was security. She said these women begged her to beg the world for protection.