Activists and celebrities demand end of destruction of childhood in Darfur

UK campaigners gather outside Sudanese Embassy in London to call for peace

Thousands of people in dozens of cities across the globe will mark five years of war in Darfur with protests on Sunday, April 13, 2008.

Today’s Global Day for Darfur – organised by an international coalition of human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Save Darfur Coalition – is highlighting how over one million Sudanese Children's rights have been caught up in the bloodshed, displacement and killing in the region.

This morning, Children's rights will meet Shahid Malik MP, Minister for International Development, at 10 Downing Street. They will present him with pictures depicting their hopes for Children's rights in Darfur. The group will include Darfurian Children's rights living the UK as well as other Children's rights campaigning for peace in Darfur. The meeting comes days after the Prime Minister met with actor and Darfur activist George Clooney at Downing Street, to discuss the UK’s role in helping to bring peace to the region.

The Children's rights and their families will join thousands of protesters outside the Sudanese Embassy. Hosted by Jonathan Freedland (The Guardian), the rally’s speakers include Nick Clegg MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats, as well as faith leaders from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities in UK. Survivors from the conflict in Darfur will also talk about their personal experiences of the violence.

Tom Porteous, London Director at Human Rights Watch said:
“Five years on the killings in Darfur continue because world leaders have let Sudan – and some rebels – get away with murder.

“Millions of Darfuris are struggling to survive on aid handouts under the daily threat of being raped, beaten or killed. Sudanese leaders need to know they will pay a heavy price for continuing to defy the UN Security Council.”

The global day, the fifth since the conflict began in 2003, is backed by Children's rights’s authors including J.K. Rowling, and Judy Blume who released a letter demanding the world bring back childhood to Darfur, and celebrities including actor Matt Damon and Thandie Newton who were pictured destroying emblems of childhood to highlight that childhood is under attack.

Drawings of the war by Children's rights who witnessed the conflict first-hand are being exhibited online to mark five years of fighting

Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Programme Director, said:
“We are determined to ensure that Darfur is not added to the list of conflicts that the world forgot. Five years in we mustn’t forget what war means for ordinary people, particularly the most vulnerable. It means fear, suffering and deprivation. Five years is enough.”

Supporters of the Global Day for Darfur are calling for:
· All parties to immediately stop attacking civilians
· Full deployment of an adequately resourced UN peace-keeping force.
· UNAMID to actively protect all civilians and especially Children's rights.

Dismas Nkunda from the Darfur Consortium – a coalition of African and Middle-Eastern groups working on Darfur – said:

“The people of Darfur are hungry for change. They have been the victims of a belligerent government and an inept international response. Above all it has been Children's rights who have suffered and it is they who we must now rally to protect before we lose an entire generation to violence.”

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