Jackson visits Sudan to urge end of crisis

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The Independent Online

The American civil rights activist the Rev Jesse Jackson visited the conflict-torn region of Darfur yesterday, urging the Sudanese government and rebels to end the crisis that has killed thousands of villagers and driven more than a million from their homes.

The American civil rights activist the Rev Jesse Jackson visited the conflict-torn region of Darfur yesterday, urging the Sudanese government and rebels to end the crisis that has killed thousands of villagers and driven more than a million from their homes.

Arriving in the provincial capital of North Darfur in an aircraft lent by the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, Mr Jackson said he wanted to "observe first-hand what we have heard through testimony and what we have read. It is obvious there is a great humanitarian crisis. Timing is of the essence as people are dying every day".

Mr Jackson was briefed by the North Darfur governor, Othman Mohammed Youssef. "We agree that we have a problem in Darfur.

"There is suffering, there is displacement, but not at the levels which is reflected in international media," Mr Youssef told Mr Jackson.

The governor told Mr Jackson that the conflict was tribal by nature and denied accusations that the Sudanese government had armed an Arab militia to target black African farmers.

"The crisis may be tribal, religious, it may be regional, but it is now a global crisis," said Mr Jackson. "The world has a moral obligation to express interest and seek resolution of a humanitarian crisis."

Mr Jackson said that according to the United Nations and the European Union, 1,000 people are dying daily in Darfur, but this statement was met with laughter by the Sudanese delegation. "For sure that is another Darfur, not this Darfur," Mr Youssef said.

A team of UN officials spent a second day visiting camps and villages across the region's three provinces.

The UN Security Council has set Monday as the deadline for the Sudanese government to disarm Arab militiamen blamed for the violence or face possible diplomatic or economic penalties. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, is expected to deliver a report on Sudan's compliance by Tuesday and the Security Council is scheduled to consider it on Thursday.

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