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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 12:03 GMT
Darfur death toll 'much higher'
Janjaweed militia
The Janjaweed are accused of widespread atrocities
A senior United Nations envoy has said far more people have died in Sudan's Darfur region during the two-year conflict than previously admitted.

Humanitarian chief Jan Egeland, who has just visited Sudan, said the crisis had claimed many more lives than the UN's much quoted 70,000 figure.

"Is it three times that? Is it five times? We don't know," he said, because the UN was not present during attacks.

More than 2m people have fled their homes, with many now in UN-run camps.

Mr Egeland also called for more African Union troops to be deployed to try to end the violence, saying this could dramatically lower the number of killings there.

Despite the pledges made by the warring parties, the killings and the systematic rapes continue beyond the camps, he said.

"I told the government at the highest levels that there was a situation totally out of control and is not being stopped."

Make or break

The UN Security Council is sharply divided on a draft resolution which would impose sanctions on the perpetrators of the worst abuses in Darfur - most of which are blamed on the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.

They are also due to vote on deploying a 10,000-strong peacekeeping force for the south.

Mr Egeland said that this year was make or break for the Sudan.

Funding was urgently needed for what he called probably the most important peace agreement in recent times - that signed between Sudan's government and rebels in the south earlier this year ending a 20-year war.

He said the peace in the south would not succeed without aid, and this would then mean a return to violence and suffering for millions of people.

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