Tue, Mar 23, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Donors conference raises US$850mn in Darfur pledges

AP , CAIRO

An international donors conference on Sunday raised US$850 million for projects intended to ensure the safe return of nearly 3 million people displaced during the war in Darfur.

The one-day conference in Cairo was organized by the 57-nation Organization of The Islamic Conference (OIC) and included representatives from the US, European nations, UN agencies and aid groups.

Host Egypt said the conference highlighted the importance of development in achieving peace and stability in Darfur. It said many participants made unspecified aid pledges on top of the US$850 million raised.

“The large participation and the pledges made reflect the wide extent of the international commitment and wish in supporting peace and stability in Darfur,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said, reading from the meeting’s final communique. “Development in Darfur is the real guarantee to help refugees back to their homes.”

The biggest donors on Sunday were Brazil, The Islamic Bank for Development, Qatar and Turkey. Others pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to finance development projects.

The fighting in Darfur, which began with a 2003 rebellion by groups accusing the government of neglecting the western province, has died down over the past year and peace talks are under way in the Gulf state of Qatar. Many of those displaced, however, are still living in camps and their future is one of the central unresolved issues. An estimated 300,000 people lost their lives to violence, disease and displacement.

OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told reporters after the meeting that the US, European countries, Australia and Japan promised generous aid and pledged continued support for the people of Darfur. He gave no figures.

Aboul Gheit said the money raised and pledged would be used to finance development projects in Darfur when peace prevails there and all rebel groups come to agreement with the Sudanese government.

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