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Singer Agnes Chan visits Darfur

4/17/2005 4:36pm

KHARTOUM, April 16 (AFP) -- Singer Agnes Chan said she had witnessed first-hand the hardships faced by displaced persons in Sudan's war-torn Darfur following a three-day tour of the region.

"The trip was very emotional to me," said Chan, a major celebrity in Japan, who visited the region in her capacity as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

"All people spoke from their hearts," she told reporters, referring to some of the estimated 2.4 million people displaced by over two years of conflict between government forces and ethnic minority rebels in the region.

Chan said they told her about the appalling conditions under which they live and "the hardships and difficulties they are facing in getting such basic needs as water and primary health care."

The singer also mentioned an encounter with a mother at the Abu Shouk camp near el-Fashir, the capital of North Darfur state, whom Chan asked what she wanted.

You know what I want? "I want education for my children and I want food and security and I want to go back home," the woman replied.

The UN said as many as 180,000 people may have died over the past two years in Darfur, mostly from disease and malnutrition, but a recent British parliamentary report put the figure at around 300,000.

Chan said the purpose of her visit was to try to help "raise the awareness of the Japanese people about the tragic situation in Darfur and thus raise the funds needed by UNICEF for the purpose."

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