Sudan pledges reach $4.5 billion

Donors at a conference in Norway have pledged $4.5 billion for Sudan's reconstruction.

    Donations were based on a UN and World Bank assessment

    The money to help rebuild Sudan's pacified southern and northern areas over the next three years was more than anticipated.

    But the United States tied its aid to improvements in the strife-torn Western Darfur region.

    "This conference has pledged $4.5 billion for 2005, 2006 and 2007," Norway's Minister for Development Aid Hilde Frafjord Johnson told the donors gathered in Oslo.

    She said at least $2 billion had been promised in bilateral funding to assist Sudan's reconstruction.

    Based on a joint UN, World Bank and Sudanese needs' assessment, donors were asked to contribute $2.6 billion by the end of 2007 for reconstruction and development after a January peace accord ended 21 years of civil conflict in Sudan's south and parts in the north.


    At least 1.5 million people were killed and another four million displaced, some of whom have already returned and are the priority for aid.

    The US has tied its funds to
    improvements in Darfur

    Khartoum will finance another $5.2 billion from its own oil resources, according to a report compiled last month by government representatives and former rebels.

    The UN was also seeking $1 billion as part of a $1.5-billion fund for food and other humanitarian aid throughout Sudan in 2005.

    US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said: "If the government of Sudan and all those in Darfur fail to act against the violence to help strengthen security and create a serious peace process, then my country and others will not be
    able to sustain the CPA fully."


    Darfur has since February 2003 been gripped by a rebellion by  sedentary peoples against government-backed nomadic militias known as Janjawid, accused of perpetrating genocide and a scorched earth policy.

    Zoellick later clarified at a press conference that his country was interested at this stage in supporting Sudan's mostly Christian south and Darfur and that none of the pledged US funds would target northern areas where the current government is based. 

    Zoellick warned Khartoum to act
    against the violence

    "We want to try to support the north-south process but I've emphasised that it is difficult to work with the government in Khartoum," he also said.

    A national unity government including southern Sudan's former rebels is to be formed in the beginning of July.

    Sudanese Vice-President Ali Usman Taha played down Zoellick's warning while insisting that Khartoum needed to be encouraged rather than threatened with sanctions.

    "I don't think the US statement this morning was meant as a
    strict condition, it was in my mind a message for us to work hard and move on Darfur," he said.

    In a separate development, Aljazeera learned that Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement have made compromises over the power-sharing agreement during discussions over an interim constitution.

    Details are to be released later on Wednesday.



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