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Activists Accuse Sudan of Enslaving Thousands in Darfur

A coalition of African charities is accusing Sudanese government soldiers and militias of kidnapping thousands of people in the war-torn region of Darfur and forcing them into unpaid labor and sex slavery.

The Darfur Consortium, an umbrella organization for more than 50 groups, says it has evidence that men, women and children were abducted during the fighting in Western Sudan.

Sudanese officials have denied the accusations.

The report says government soldiers and Arab government-allied Janjaweed militias abducted women and girls during raids on villages and displacement camps and subjected them to rape and forced marriage.

It also says militias seized men and boys and forced them into farm work.

The report says many of those abducted were from the Fur, Massaliet, Zagawa and other non-Arabic speaking ethnic groups in what they describe as a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing.

Aidan Mcquade, director of consortium member Anti-Slavery International, says members of Darfur's non-Arabic speaking communities are being displaced from their land which is being given over to Arabic-speaking people, some of them non-Sudanese.

He says many of the former owners are being forced to work for new masters because they have no knowledge of cultivation.

The United Nations estimates that more than 300,000 people were killed in five years of fighting between the rebels, the Sudanese government and government-backed militias. More than 2.5 million others have fled their homes.