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Activists Press UN Security Council to End Darfur Suffering

Human rights activists are urging the U.N. Security Council to turn up the pressure on the Sudanese government and quickly complete the deployment of 26,000 U.N. peacekeepers to Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

At an informal meeting with Security Council members, activists and non-governmental organizations charged the 15-member body is not doing enough to help the people of Darfur, more than five years into a conflict that the world has called a genocide.

They said the council must force the government of Sudan to comply with the nine resolutions it has adopted on Darfur and if Khartoum remains obstinate, sanctions must be applied.

"The failure to sanction Sudanese leaders for atrocities and commanding atrocities for some six years now, has simply encouraged the Sudanese government and its militias to continue to kill, loot and rape with impunity. And they do that as we speak," said Georgette Gagnon, the Africa Director of Human Rights Watch.

American Actress and Activist Mia Farrow blamed council member China, which is invested in Sudan's oil sector, for protecting Khartoum with its Security Council veto-power. "I don't think the government of Sudan could have continued in this way for more than five years without the knowledge that it has the support of a giant - and that giant is China," she said.

John Prendergast, who co-chairs the ENOUGH project to end genocide and crimes against humanity, said because of its influence in Sudan, China has a larger responsibility to help end the conflict. "They must fulfill that or we are going to see Sudan burn - and one of the first things that is going to burn is China's own economic interests," he said.

China has come under increasing international pressure to use its influence with the Khartoum government, especially as world attention turns to Beijing which is about to host the Summer Olympic Games.

The United States, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month, organized Tuesday's informal meeting. U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Richard Williamson said Washington is "disheartened" that the deployment of the 26,000 promised peacekeepers is moving so slowly and warned that if more is not done the killing will continue.