Aid donors pledge $4.8bn to Sudan

Khartoum welcomes international donations as Norway conference comes to an end.

    The pledges came at a three-day donors' conference in Oslo, Norway's capital [EPA]

    In a report ahead of the conference, the Sudanese government and the regional government of semi-autonomous South Sudan said they needed around $6.1bn of international aid up to take them up to the end of 2011.
    As the conference ended, the timeframe and how the donated funds would be split between humanitarian, reconstruction and developmental aid efforts remained unclear.
    Darfur conflict
    When announcing their pledges, many donors stressed the importance of the peace deal as well as working to resolve the issue of Darfur, in the west of Sudan, where a separate conflict is raging.
    But Hilde Frafjord Johnson, a deputy executive director of Unicef, warned the Darfur conflict was drawing world funding and attention away from the rest of the country.
    "The southerners should not be hostages to developments in Darfur," she said.
    "Malnutrition and child mortality rates are worse in parts of southern Sudan than in Darfur."
    Ali Osman Taha, the vice president of Sudan's national unity government, thanked donors, calling them "real friends".
    "The pledging commitments that have been made so far really deserve [our] whole-hearted appreciation and applause," he said.
    "Real friends"
    The three-day meeting of representatives from 30 countries and international organisations sought to determine what progress has been made since a January 2005 peace agreement that ended a civil war between North and South Sudan.
    The donations surpassed pledges made at an initial donor conference for Sudan held in Oslo in April, 2005, when donors pledged $4.5bn for a three-year period.
    "Even one dollar is immense and quite appreciated" by the people, said Luka Biong Deng, South Sudan's minister of presidential affairs.
    In addition to funding the disarming of fighters and their reintegration into civilian life, the pledged money would go towards improving infrastructure, education and basic healthcare, including better access to water and improved sanitation, he said.
    "These are the things that will make peace meaningful to the people of war-affected areas," he said.
    Norway helped broker the 2005 peace deal and northern and southern Sudan are now experienced an interim peace period scheduled to end with a 2011 referendum on whether the South will secede.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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