Actress Mia Farrow launched a fund to support survivors of the fighting in Sudan's Darfur region Sunday, and said that the jailing of a British teacher in the African nation showed the cruelty of its leadership.
"This is the first genocide of the 21st century and the one genocide that is ongoing as we speak," said Farrow, a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF who has visited Darfur seven times since 2004. "We have a regime that launched a military campaign on an unarmed population for no other reason than that they are not Arab."
At a news conference at a London hotel, Farrow said the imprisonment of British teacher Gillian Gibbons for allowing her students in Sudan to name a teddy bear Muhammad "demonstrates the palpable insanity and cruelty of that regime."
Farrow said she hopes the international media coverage of Gibbons' ordeal will open the eyes of the West to what is happening in Sudan.
"One white woman in peril with a teddy bear has captured more media attention than the past three years of our brothers and sisters in the Darfur region," she said.
At least 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been forced from their homes in four years of fighting between the Sudanese government and local rebels in Darfur.
The international community spends over $1 billion a year to alleviate suffering in Darfur, yet world powers have proved reluctant to send troops or costly equipment like helicopters to protect civilians and aid workers, who face growing threats and lack of access.
Money donated to the newly created Fund4Darfur will be used to help survivors of the conflict and refugees, Farrow said. Aegis Trust -- an independent, international organization dedicated to eliminating genocide -- will operate the fund.
On the Net:
Fund for Darfur: http://www.fund4darfur.org/