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Learning English - Words in the News
25 June, 2007 - Published 11:06 GMT
Darfur crisis getting worse
Armed police in Darfur

France is hosting an international conference today to boost efforts to end the four-year conflict in the region of Darfur. With the security situation on the ground in Darfur getting worse, aid workers and peacekeepers are routinely targeted. This report from Amber Henshaw:

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The situation in Sudan's arid, remote western region of Darfur has changed significantly since fighting began in 2003. Malnutrition rates have now been cut by half since the start of the conflict, according to the United Nations.

International experts estimate that 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur in the last four years and more than two million have fled from their homes.

Attacks against humanitarian organisations and African Union peacekeepers are on the increase. Rarely a week goes by without a vehicle being carjacked and staff abducted or beaten.

Since the widely unpopular Darfur Peace Agreement was signed by one of the three negotiating rebel factions last year, the groups have splintered into numerous fighting forces.

There has been a general breakdown of law and order in Darfur, a region almost the size of France inhabited by about six million people. The recent surge in violent incidents appears to be carried out by criminal groups looking to steal cars and sell them in neighbouring countries, such as Chad or Libya.

The number of people affected and displaced has steadily increased since the start of the conflict, and at the moment there seems little prospect of them being able to return to their villages.

Amber Henshaw, BBC, Khartoum

Listen to the words

extremely dry, without enough water

Malnutrition rates
numbers of people whose health has been affected by a lack of food

guess (a number or size)

stolen while the owner is still in the car, usually by using force or threats

rebel factions
militant groups that are opposed to the political situation in the country or region

broken (into smaller groups)

a general breakdown of law and order
a situation where the laws of a country are not obeyed by the majority of people, often because the police or army are unable to enforce them

surge in violent incidents
sudden and significant increase in the number of cases where force is used to hurt or kill

forced to flee from their homes

there seems little prospect
it looks like there aren't many chances

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