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Oxfam: Blair visit must help end violence

October 6, 2004

Oxfam: Blair visit must help end violence and insecurity in Darfur

Tony Blair's visit to Sudan must transform promises into concrete actions to help end the violent crisis in Darfur, according to international aid agency Oxfam today. Britain has generously funded humanitarian aid to Darfur. But it, like other governments, has failed in its attempts to end the atrocities in Darfur.

The situation in Darfur, western Sudan, is not improving. Nearly six months after the ceasefire, there are daily reports of violence and insecurity. Civilians continue to be targeted by militias and other armed groups. Many displaced people are afraid to venture outside the camps and towns where they have taken refuge.

Women and girls are increasingly subjected to extreme forms of harassment and violence, including beating, whipping, abduction and rape around towns such as Kebkabiya, Zam Zam and Kass.

"We welcome Tony Blair's visit as a sign of the British government's commitment to end the violence in Darfur. While this short trip alone will not directly save lives, the Prime Minister can help thousands by shifting British policy up a gear.

“We urge Tony Blair to do all he can to ensure thousands more African Union personnel are deployed to Darfur this month. This concrete action will directly help stop the violence against civilians. Mr Blair should make Darfur a personal priority and pull out all the stops to encourage all sides to end the violence. Mr Blair's intervention must be immediate but it must also be sustained.

“World leaders must not forget about Darfur as they have so often forgotten about other humanitarian crises once they are no longer making headlines" said Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand.

Tony Blair will be visiting Sudan before going on to Ethiopia for a meeting of the Africa Commission.

Oxfam New Zealand has raised NZ $390,000 for emergency work in Darfur, Sudan and in refugee camps in neighbouring Chad. To donate call 0800 600 700 or visit www.oxfam.org.nz

ENDS

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