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No Genocide in Sudan, EU Says

An EU fact-finding team back from Sudan said it had found no evidence of genocide in the Darfur region, but doubted the Sudanese government's commitment to protecting the civilian population against attacks.

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Camps are teeming with refugees from Darfur

A delegation of EU officials has said widespread killings are taking place in the Dafur region of Sudan, but that they could not be qualified as genocide.

"We are not in the situation of genocide there," said Pieter Feith, an adviser to the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, according to news agency AFP.

"But it is clear there is widespread, silent and slow killing going on and village burning of a fairly large scale. There are considerable doubts as to the willingness of Sudan's government to assume its duty to protect its civilian population against attacks," Feith added.

Feith and his delegation had arrived in Darfur last Tuesday for a five-day mission to evaluate how the EU could help implement a ceasefire in the troubled western region.

The International Criminal Court defines genocide as the "systematic and planned extermination of a national, racial, religious or ethnic group" but whether to apply the term is often a political decision.

EU at odds with US review

The EU delegation's assessment of the situation is in stark contrast to that of the US House of Representatives, which last month said that the campaign of looting and burning by Arab militiamen against African village farmers is genocide.

The United Nations has set a three-week deadline for Khartoum to improve security and human rights in Darfur or it will face sanctions.

According to the international organization, around 50,000 people have died in Dafur and over a million have been forced to flee from the homes since the fighting began early in 2003.

It was started by a rebel uprising in Darfur which led to a crackdown by Sudanese forces and an Arab militia known as Janjaweed.

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