Darfur donor meeting in March eyes $2 billion: Egypt


A donor conference for Darfur this month is intended to raise $2 billion for infrastructure, health, water and other projects in the war-ravaged Sudanese region, the Egyptian hosts said.

Projects being proposed at the one-day development and reconstruction conference on March 21 in Cairo include building two cement plants, 520 km (300 miles) of roads and 120 villages for displaced people, documents distributed by Egypt showed.

Donors have convened several conferences for Sudan, stricken by multiple conflicts over the years. More than $4 billion was pledged in Norway after a 2005 north-south peace deal.

Much of that money was diverted to Darfur’s separate humanitarian crisis and complicated aid structures held up spending, leaving many in Sudan’s south wondering where their peace dividend was.
“The conference aims at sending a clear message to the international community that development is a key factor in achieving peace and stability,” an Egyptian statement said.

Qatar has been hosting protracted peace talks between Darfur’s main insurgent group, the Justice and Equality Movement, and Khartoum after months of clashes. JEM had said direct talks would begin on March 10, but they were delayed as JEM found no support for its demand to delay April elections.

Documents put the total value of proposed projects at $2.04 billion to be funded by loans or grants pledged at the conference, which is being co-chaired by Turkey and with backing from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The 57-nation OIC, based in Saudi Arabia, has no direct political power but represents more than one billion Muslims.

Past pledges from the Arab League, a Cairo-based grouping of Arab states, including funding Darfur peacekeepers have not fully materialised.

Aside from OIC nations, other countries including European states and the United States have been invited, along with the World Bank, UN bodies and other institutions. Non-governmental organisations have also been asked to attend.

A preparatory committee has been set up and includes the two co-chairs, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, OIC representatives and the Islamic Development Bank.

Pic: Darfur SLA rebels

Source: www.af.reuters.com