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UN: 100,000 have fled Darfur fighting in 6 weeks

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Approximately 100,000 people have fled their homes in Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region because of an upsurge of violence in the last six weeks, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said Wednesday.

Herve Ladsous said this adds to the nearly 2 million people displaced by the Darfur conflict, including 400,000 last year.

Darfur has been gripped by bloodshed since 2003 when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect.

Ladsous told reporters after a closed meeting of the U.N. Security Council that he presented members with a proposal to improve the performance of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, whose primary role is protecting civilians.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power urged the peacekeepers to be more "aggressive and steadfast" in protecting civilians and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid

Ladsous blamed the latest violence on community strife, tribal warfare, competition for resources, a lack of money, and the return of men who went to Central African Republic as mercenaries.

Last Saturday, the AU-U.N. mediator for Darfur completed talks with the leaders of two of Darfur's rebel groups, seeking a solution to the conflict.

Power noted that the government of Sudan said in January it was prepared to lead a political dialogue, including all sides in the political spectrum as well as armed groups that have renounced violence. She urged all armed groups to end their attacks and join the political dialogue.

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