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German official urges end to Darfur violence, denounces mass rape

6/13/2005 12:29pm

BERLIN, June 13, 2005 (AP) -- A senior German official on Monday urged the Sudanese government and rebel groups to end violence in the troubled Darfur region, describing the human rights situation as catastrophic and denouncing "systematic mass rape."

Kerstin Mueller, Germany's deputy foreign minister, issued her call after meeting with aid organizations that are active in Darfur. Sudan is under international pressure over its treatment of aid workers after Medecins sans Frontieres' top official in the country was arrested and charged with spreading false information.

"The human rights situation in Darfur is still catastrophic," Mueller said in a statement. "Attacks by militias on the civilian population continue and the use of systematic mass rape against women and children as a means of targeted expulsion and intimidation are being continued."

The Dutch branch of MSF released a report in March that said its doctors collected evidence of 500 rapes over 4 1/2 months, with more than 80 percent of the victims identifying their attackers as soldiers or members of government-allied militia.

Darfur's crisis erupted when rebels took up arms against what they saw as years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin.

The government is accused of responding with a counterinsurgency campaign in which the ethnic Arab militia known as the Janjaweed has committed wide-scale abuses against ethnic Africans.

Mueller urged the government and rebels to "finally end the violence in Darfur" and called on authorities in Khartoum to disarm the Janjaweed.

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