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Protesters around world plead: Intervene in Darfur

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of demonstrators in cities around the world on Sunday demanded action to stop the killing in Darfur, Sudan.

"We are all here because everybody is fed up in watching no action on Darfur, while we have been watching rolling genocide," former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told CNN from New York's Central Park. Organizers there said they were expecting tens of thousands of people.

In addition to the United States, the "Global Day for Action on Darfur" also took place in Canada and across Europe, Africa and Asia. Protesters gathered in London outside Prime Minister Tony Blair's residence, and in Rwanda and Cambodia, led by survivors of genocides there. (Watch demonstrators around the world plead for attention on Darfur - 3:38)

The message: The United Nations should send peacekeepers into western Sudan, with or without its capital, Khartoum's, approval.

This month, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution for such a force to replace the African Union troops already there but said the force wouldn't be deployed until Sudan could be persuaded to accept it.

To demonstrate support for the U.N.'s mandate, hundreds of demonstrators wore berets made from blue cloth, the material of the uniforms worn by U.N. peacekeepers.

T-shirts read "Stop Genocide" and "Never Again." (More from global rallies)

"The international community has really not done enough," Albright said. "So today is a day where there are people all over the world putting their voices together to say that Sudan has a last chance to be on the right side of this. Or forever be on the wrong side," Albright said.

She urged international action against the oil-rich nation, including sanctions that would limit travel abroad by Sudanese leaders and a no-fly zone over the Darfur region. "Other countries have to stop doing business with Sudan," she said. "Oil is not more important than human lives. I don't care what country you're from."

Albright said the crisis in Sudan differs from that which occurred in 1994 in Rwanda, where nearly a million people were killed in 100 days when Bill Clinton was president.

"President Clinton and I have so many times said how horrible it was that we weren't able to do something about Rwanda, but the lesson is different. Rwanda was volcanic genocide ... this is rolling genocide."

Asked if the United States should send troops, Albright said, "We don't have any U.S. troops. They're in Iraq, and they're in Afghanistan. We're stretched so thin we can't take care of our other responsibilities."

U.N. under pressure to act

The global demonstrations were timed to coincide with the arrival of world leaders in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly.

Violence has increased in Darfur despite the May 5 signing of a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the largest of three rebel groups -- the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army.

An African Union force of 7,000 has struggled to find funding for the mission and has been unable to quell the violence.

Khartoum has resisted international pressure to permit the transition from the African Union force to a more robust, better-equipped force under U.N. command. The government said it would not go along with that move until all of the major rebel groups have signed the peace agreement.

To protest the U.N. resolution, the Sudan government has threatened to kick out the African Union forces when their mandate expires and has begun to deploy its own troops to stem the violence. The United States has called the move an offensive against the rebel groups that have not signed the peace agreement.

Violence erupted three years ago in ethnically mixed Darfur, when ethnic African rebels took up arms over what they saw as neglect by the Arab-dominated central government.

The Sudanese government is accused of responding by unleashing Arab militias called Janjaweed, who have systematically raped women and pillaged villages in a campaign the United States has branded "genocide."

Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, has called for "urgent international action" to deal with the problem.

Humanitarian agencies are trying to deal with 2 million internally displaced people and more than 200,000 refugees in 12 UNHCR-run camps across the border in Chad, he said.

This month, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar introduced the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006.

In addition to calling for the administration to appoint a special envoy for Sudan, the legislation commits U.S. assets to assist the African Union forces and bans non-humanitarian assistance to the Sudanese government. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against individuals determined by President Bush to be "complicit in, or responsible for, acts of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity in Darfur."

Dallaire: Remember Rwanda

In Ottawa, Canada, former U.N. commander for Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire, attended the rally there.

Dallaire, a Liberal senator, warned that Darfur could become the next Rwanda. "Darfur is tasting, smelling, looking in every way, shape (and) form like a repetition on a similar scale of what happened in Rwanda 12 years ago," the retired lieutenant general said.

"We are going to witness, again with blood on our hands, the destruction of human beings who are exactly like us."


Crisis in Sudan
• Gallery: Humanitarian crisis
• Map: Sudan's Darfur region
• Behind the scenes: Amanpour
• Related sites: How to help
• An aid worker's diary
• Special: Crisis in Sudan
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