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Donors’ pledge of $4.5bn in aid for Sudan

April 12, 2005

Published: April 12 2005

By Guy Dinmore in Oslo

Sudan’s peace accord ending decades of north-south civil war received an important boost from the international community on Tuesday when donors meeting in Oslo pledged $2.6bn in aid during the next three years.

Robert Zoellick, US deputy secretary of state, announced a US commitment of $1.7bn (€1.3bn, £899m) intended to develop southern Sudan, though US Congress must still approve $900m of the sum.

The US has not expressly declared its pledges of aid conditional on resolution of the conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, which is separate to the north-south conflict. The US has accused the Sudanese government and allied Arab militia of committing genocide against mainly African villagers there.

But Mr Zoellick reiterated his warning that the US and other governments would “not be able to sustain fully” the January peace accord that ended the north-south civil war if all the parties involved failed to end the conflict in Darfur. John Garang, a southern rebel leader who is to become vice-president of a transitional government under the power-sharing agreement, said it wouldbe a mistake to link implementation of the accord and “peace dividend” to resolution of the Darfur crisis.

US sanctions, which are unlikely to be lifted unless dramatic progress is made resolving the Darfur crisis, prevent American development funds being spent in the north, where there is also widespread under-development. The US made clear that its aid would go directly to southern Sudan and not through Khartoum even after formation of the central coalition government, which has fallen behind schedule.

Hilde Johnson, minister of international development for Norway which hosted the two-day conference, congratulated the more than 60 nations participating and urged them to convert their pledges into cash. She also called for integration of aid efforts through the two north-south, multidonor trust funds to be administered by the international community.

“Too often we have seen a donor circus in post-conflict situations,” she said.

Refugees are already starting to return to southern Sudan in the wake of the January deal. Aid agencies working in Darfur face a serious cash crunch. The World Food Programme says it will have to cut rations soon to 1m people. “We are at zero,” said Wendy Chamberlin, acting head of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. The agency has received only $2m of the $31m it needs to operate in Darfur.

Additional reporting by Andrew England in Nairobi

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