Geldof warns major powers over Darfur

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The Independent Online

Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof today launched an excoriating attack on China and other major powers, accusing them of perpetuating death and destruction in Darfur.

He said Beijing was still arming the Sudanese government, which is refusing to allow UN peacekeepers to enter the country while it carries out military operations against rebels.

Mr Geldof insisted the world was now "slow stepping into watching two million people die in front of us on the six o'clock news every night" - and politicians had to act.

So far around 200,000 people are believed to have died in Darfur and violence has continued despite the signing of a peace treaty earlier this year - supposedly enforced by African Union troops.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has recently stressed that addressing the crisis is one of his highest priorities.

But Mr Geldof - who is due to appear at a Labour conference event in Manchester alongside Chancellor Gordon Brown and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn - gave a damning assessment of international action generally.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The reality is that in another age perhaps America and Britain could have intervened but they can't now, possibly because of the Middle East.

"The French won't, probably for the same reason, though they are ably equipped through the Foreign Legion - who are desert fighters - to just put a line across that sand.

"The Arab League are absolutely pathetic and supine. They seem to think it's within their remit to allow two million of their fellow co-religionists to die in a massacre.

"The Khartoum government are thugs and tyrants. They are supported by the Chinese who take 6% of their oil out of Sudan - which is 60% of Sudanese oil production - and therefore will not allow (measures to get through) the Security Council.

"Meanwhile they build an arms factory outside of Khartoum and arm the Sudanese army."

He added: "Where are the Jordanians, where are the Pakistanis - serious, proper armies?

"The African Union are ill-equipped, they are ill trained and they haven't been paid for eight months."

Mr Geldof said a "bold political step" was needed to resolve the tragedy.

"I think we really have a right to insist upon an intervention through the United Nations," he added.

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