EU restores ties with Sudan

The European Union has restored ties with Sudan and offered €50 million in aid to help boost a peace agreement.

    The 21-year-long civil conflict left 1.2 million Sudanese homeless

    Senior EU and Sudanese officials signed a cooperation agreement on Monday, which the European Commission said would launch an immediate aid package of €25 million for the northern region and a further €25 million for the south of the country.

    "This meeting is the starting point of normal relations between the European Union and Sudan," EU Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said.

    The EU, the world's leading aid donor, suspended cooperation with Sudan during the war in 1990. It resumed political dialogue with Khartoum in 1999 but did not re-launch cooperation.

    Normal relations between Khartoum and Brussels will mean that Sudan now also has access to a €400 million development aid package from the EU's executive commission.

    Terrible toll

    Rebels in the south and the Khartoum government signed the peace deal on 9 January, ending 21 years of civil war. Two million people, mostly civilians, have died from violence, disease or famine in the oil-rich region.

    Development aid worth millions
    of euros will flow into Sudan now

    Sudanese Vice-President Ali Usman Muhammad Taha pledged to implement the peace pact, which could help end the Darfur conflict in which more than 1.2 million people have been left homeless.

    "We are committed to use the same drive and to draw from our experience in resolving the conflict in southern Sudan to bring a prompt and fair answer to the conflict in Darfur," Taha said.

    But Taj al-Din Nyam, an official of the Darfur rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement, appealed to the EU not to release any money to the government as long as the conflict in the western region of Darfur continues.

    "This money will be used to finance the Janjawid. Do not release this money to someone who is killing our people. It means funding for genocide," he told Reuters from Chad.

    The Janjawid are militias that have attacked Darfur villagers, helping to drive two million of them out of their homes.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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