Activists in 30 countries held a global day of action Sunday to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the Darfur conflict with protests to highlight what has loosely been termed as genocide.
The international commemoration, backed by celebrities including children's authors Judy Blume and J.K. Rowling and actor George Clooney, is being organized by an international coalition of activists and rights groups.
"Days like this matter because they keep what is happening in the eyes of the international community," said Clooney, who is also a U.N. messenger of peace.
"We need sustained international engagement if we're to see real progress on the ground."
International experts estimate some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been driven from their homes since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in Darfur in early 2003 charging the government in Khartoum with neglect.
Washington calls the violence genocide and the conflict has captured attention in the West, with Hollywood stars, sportsmen and world famous authors campaigning for an end to the fighting.
Khartoum denies genocide, a term European governments are reluctant to use, and puts the death toll at 9,000, blaming the Western media for exaggerating the conflict.
Police violently dispersed Darfuri students at Khartoum University demonstrating against violence in the region, and many remained surrounded inside the university late on Sunday.
"They arrested 35 Darfuris and we have 12 injured with us, some from tear gas, some from knife wounds but we cannot take them to hospital because we are still locked inside the university," Darfuri student Salaheddin Bosh told Reuters.
Western governments have accused Sudan of impeding deployment of the United Nations-African Union force tasked with trying to keep the peace in Darfur. Critics say those Western governments have not provided the equipment and support needed to get the U.N.-AU troops on the ground.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would push the U.N. Security Council next week for progress on Darfur. Brown's office said on Sunday he had offered to host Darfur peace talks.