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Fighting in western Sudan has forced thousands of people into refugee camps. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

Several Liberal and Conservative members of Parliament called Thursday for Canada to provide more aid to Darfur, the war-torn area of western Sudan where thousands have died.

NDP Leader Jack Layton backed the plea.

Liberal MP Keith Martin suggested the United Nations should send soldiers to keep the peace between the government-backed Arab militias and the African residents of the area.

The African Union has a peacekeeping force in place, which is supported by international organizations and many countries, including Canada.

Martin's suggestion came three weeks after the United Nations Security Council called for the UN to take over peacekeeping from the African Union.

NATO is also pushing for an increased UN presence in Darfur.

But Sudan has rejected intervention by non-African soldiers, and it's resisting the Security Council plan.

Conservative Maurice Vellacott, who has visited Darfur, said the conflict is spreading into neighbouring Chad. "A vigorous, robust force in there, even in well-equipped small numbers, can make a considerable difference in pushing back the awful atrocities, the evil that is taking place in that part of the world."

Fellow Conservative James Lunney drew a parallel between the situation in Rwanda in the 1990s and Darfur. The world ignored the genocide in Rwanda, and that must not happen in Darfur, he said.

Liberal Irwin Cotler called the situation in Darfur genocide, and he too wants the international community to intervene.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the government is considering the situation in Darfur, but Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said the government is not looking at sending Canadian soliders at this time.

The UN has described Darfur as the site of the world's gravest humanitarian crisis. Earlier this month, it said fighting in the region "has killed close to 200,000 people and uprooted two million."