Thursday, May 14, 2009

Branson takes on Mia Farrow's Darfur hunger strike - 10th May 2009

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Mia Farrow has ended a 12-day hunger strike she used to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's embattled Darfur region, the actress announced on her website.

Farrow, 64, had been on a water-only diet from April 27 in what the actress described as an "expression of outrage" at deaths from starvation, thirst and disease in Darfur.

Farrow ended her fast Friday after advice from a doctor.

British tycoon Richard Branson said he would take over Farrow's fast for three days in a gesture of solidarity with the humanitarian activist.

"I have been instructed by my doctor to stop my fast immediately due to health concerns including possible seizures," Farrow said on her website.

"I am fortunate. The women, children, and men I am fasting for do not have that option."

Farrow said she hoped other figures would step forward to fast for Darfur until humanitarian agencies expelled from the region in March were readmitted.

Branson said he was happy to follow in Farrow's footsteps.

"I'm honored to be taking over the fast for the next three days from Mia Farrow in her courageous stance to support the people of Darfur," he said in a statement.

Virgin boss Branson said he had been moved by the plight of Darfur's people after visiting the region.

"I was humbled and inspired by the courage of the Darfuri people and the commitment of the aid organizations that were working on the frontlines," said Branson.

"We cannot stand and watch as one million people suffer. We all need to stand up and demand that international aid is restored and that the people of Darfur are protected and given the chance to live in peace."

Farrow, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, is one of several celebrities who have campaigned relentlessly to draw attention to the conflict in Darfur.

The United Nations says 300,000 people have died -- many from disease and hunger -- and 2.7 million have been made homeless by the Darfur conflict, which erupted in 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

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