Clooney joins US rallies to demand an end to violence

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The Independent US

Thousands of campaigners across the United States have marched to demand international action against the violence against civilians in Darfur.

The actor George Clooney was among several celebrities who led the rallies yesterday, calling for a greater US role in responding to what the United Nations says is the world's worst humanitarian disaster. In Washington alone, it was estimated that 15,000 people took part in the rally.

"You feel completely overwhelmed," Clooney, just back from a fact-finding trip to Sudan with his father, told the Associated Press. "We flew over areas and my father and I would look at each other and go, this is just too much. But then what are we to do? Nothing?"

Clooney was due to be joined by the Democratic senator, Barack Obama, and the Nobel Peace Prize- winner, Elie Wiesel.

The rallies were designed to highlight a slaughter that campaigners say has fallen off the news agenda. Aid agencies and others estimate that around 180,000 people have been killed and three million driven from their homes by fighting in the western Sudanese region since February 2003.

David Rubenstein, co-ordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition, made up of more than 160 humanitarian and religious groups, said the aim of the Rally to Stop Genocide was to try to create pressure for the establishment of a multinational peace force in the region.

Despite the Sudanese government's readiness to agree a peace deal, a spokesman for the rebels said they still were not satisfied with the draft.

"We have some reservations about the draft peace agreement," said Ahmed Hussein, spokesman for one of the two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement.

In the US, public and political opinion has gradually been shifting as more evidence about the violence in Darfur has emerged.

Five members of Congress were arrested after participating in a demonstration outside the Sudanese embassy last week.

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