The Darfur death toll rises:

The United Nations now estimates that about 180,000 people have died in Sudan’s western Darfur region as a result of violence, disease or malnutrition since October 2003 — 2½ times the previous estimate. U.N. emergency relief officials believe the number of deaths has recently decreased because of increased humanitarian aid and improved access to the vast region, but the Sudanese government hasn’t given a green light for a new U.N. mortality survey, U.N. spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker said Tuesday. Last week, U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said that far more people had died in Darfur than the 70,000 reported since last year. “Is it three times that, is it five times that, I don’t know, but it’s several times the number of 70,000 that have died altogether,” she said. But this week Egeland came up with the 180,000 figure — about 10,000 deaths a month from October 2003 until March 2005, Bunker said. “It is a rough estimate,” she stressed.

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