Protests held in Darfur over donor conference

Demonstrators say Sunday's donor conference in Qatar is unlikely to bring an end to insecurity on the ground in Darfur.

    Demonstrations have taken place in Sudan's troubled Darfur region against an international donor conference to be
    held in Qatar, a civil society activist and other sources have said.

    Some of the 1.4 million people displaced by Darfur's decade-long conflict protested at their camps near North Darfur's state capital El Fasher, and in Kalma camp, South Darfur, the activist told the AFP news agency on Saturday.

    "They demonstrated because there is no security on the ground," said the activist, who asked not to be identified.

    Sources in the region said four local residents were wounded on Saturday after gunfire was heard in an area about 100km east of South Darfur state capital Nyala.

    The protesters were objecting to Sunday's conference in Doha, where 400 delegates, including representatives of aid agencies and governments from around the world, aim to woo support for a Darfur "recovery" strategy worth billions of dollars.

    "What are they going to do with this money when there is no security?" the activist asked.

    Protests were also held in North Darfur's Kebkabiya, the Central Darfur capital Zalingei, and Nertiti town in the Jebel Marra region, the activist said.

    Other sources confirmed that protests took place at camps in Nertiti, near Zalingei, and at Kalma where about 1,000 displaced people demonstrated on Friday.

    Peace deal rejected

    The Kalma protesters held banners calling for an end to killings, and said they would not return to their villages until peace is restored.

    They also objected to the 2011 peace deal which Khartoum signed in the Qatari capital with an alliance of rebel splinter factions.

    Major rebel groups rejected the pact, which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in January had seen only limited progress in its implementation.

    A breakaway faction of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement on Saturday became the second group to join the peace deal.

    They signed a "final agreement" with the Sudanese government in Doha, official media reported.

    Sunday's Doha conference takes place as part of that peace pact, and comes 10 years after a rebellion erupted among the region's non-Arab ethnic groups.

    The Sudan Liberation Army faction led by Minni Minnawi said its forces had killed government troops on Saturday and occupied Muhagiriya and Labado, two communities about 100km east of Nyala.

    Rebel flags were flying over the area, rebels claimed.

    Sources in the region confirmed there had been a large rebel presence in the Muhagiriya and Labado areas.

    The rebels began their fight seeking an end to what they said was the domination of Sudan's power and wealth by the country's Arab elites.

    In response, government-backed Arab Janjaweed militia shocked the world with atrocities against black Africans.

    While the worst of the violence has long passed, inter-Arab battles, kidnappings, carjackings and other crimes add to the instability.

    The draft development strategy to be discussed in Doha says there will probably never be an ideal time for recovery, and delays can only make the process more difficult.

    It seeks $7.2bn for a six-year effort to move the region away from food handouts and other emergency aid, laying the foundation for lasting development through improved water facilities, the road network and other infrastructure.

    It calls for agricultural upgrades, access to financing and other measures to help Darfuris support themselves under a more effective system of local government.

    The 2011 peace deal created divisions inside the camps for displaced, leading to deadly violence.



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