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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 07:41 GMT
EU lawmakers urge Darfur action
By Alix Kroeger
BBC News, Strasbourg

An African Union soldier stands guard in the village of Goes Being in Darfur
EU lawmakers say AU troops must be joined by a robust UN force
A cross-party group of European lawmakers has called for a UN peacekeeping force to go into the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur.

They want the peacekeepers to go even without the consent or agreement of the government of Sudan.

They want to create humanitarian corridors to allow aid organisations to reach the victims of war.

Since 2003, at least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million have been displaced.

MEPs from across the political spectrum are backing the call for urgent action in Darfur.

They want the United Nations to set a clear date for the deployment of UN-backed peacekeeping troops, supplementing or taking over from the African Union force currently on the ground.

With only 7,000 soldiers covering an area the size of Western Europe, the troops are badly overstretched, but Sudan has refused to allow the UN to take over or bolster their mandate.

'Responsible action'

A Liberal MEP, General Philippe Morillon, commanded UN troops in Bosnia. He put the town of Srebrenica under UN protection - a promise which failed to prevent a massacre.

He said Europe must not remain lukewarm on Darfur, which he said was "the biggest humanitarian crisis of the past 10 years".

Irish centre-right MEP Simon Coveney said there was no prospect that Sudan would allow a UN force to go in, because, he said, Khartoum itself was sponsoring the violence.

The MEPs have also criticised China's role - it has been selling arms to Sudan, and buying Sudanese oil, but has stayed silent on Darfur.

Portuguese centre-left MEP Ana Gomes said the MEPs backing the resolution were calling for responsible action, and European governments should not be shy about it.

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