Groups Will Use Holocaust Day To Highlight Mass Murder in Darfur

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The Independent/UK

Groups Will Use Holocaust Day To Highlight Mass Murder in Darfur

Colin Brown

Britain's official day to mark the Holocaust will be dedicated to highlighting the mass murder taking in place in Darfur today, to increase pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the killing there.1126 02

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust will use its national day on 27 January to demand tougher action to stop atrocities in Sudan. The official charity was set up with the backing of the Government to learn the lessons of the Holocaust against six million Jews in the Second World War.

A survey conducted by YouGov for the charity showed that 53 per cent of British people are aware of the outrages being committed in Darfur but 83 per cent have done nothing about them. About 24 per cent said they had done nothing because they did not believe they could change anything, and 18 per cent said they did not know what to do.

The charity was hoping that by drawing attention to the killing in Darfur, it would persuade more people to lobby MPs and protest for tougher action against a regime presiding over the mass murder.

More than one million people have fled their homes in Sudan to escape government-armed militias which are blamed for the deaths of 30,000 people, and mass starvation is feared if food aid does not reach the refugee camps.

Among those who have fled to the UK is Khatir Mohammed, who said he feared being sent back to Darfur. He said: "I currently have asylum status but fear that I could be deported at any time as this would lead to certain death. I have no idea where my wife is. I also have three brothers and one sister in Darfur. If the British people want to help us I would encourage them to support the asylum seekers by raising money for them and raising awareness of the situation."

The UN Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, is trying to broker a peace deal before the scheduled arrival of more than 20,000 peacekeepers in Darfur next year.

The UN has declared the situation in Sudan a "severe humanitarian crisis" rather than "genocide", which would allow countries to intervene more directly under international law. Britain, the EU, US and UN are working to put pressure on the Sudanese government to disarm and disband the militia. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair did not rule out the use of force, but that is not on the agenda, although UN peace talks earlier this month failed to produce a solution.

Stephen Smith, chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said: "During the Second World War, ordinary civilians stood by and did nothing while millions of Jews were taken to the gas chambers. Through the modern day camera lens, the situation is brought to our living rooms. It is there we make the decision - do we take a stand or change the TV channel and ignore the plight of millions in Darfur?"

© 2007 The Independent

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