Donor countries have pledged $3.6 billion (2.77 billion euros) to finance the development of war-torn Darfur at a fundraising conference in Qatar. The hosts were among the biggest contributors, offering $500 million.
Sudan's Darfur region is to receive the multi-billion dollar pledge over a six-year period, Qatar's minister of state for cabinet affairs, Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmud, said on Monday as the two-day conference drew to a close.
No breakdown of the figure was provided, although Qatar reportedly made an immediate offer of $88 million with a total pledge of half a billion dollars to fund grants and rejuvenation projects.
It was Sudan's government in Khartoum which contributed the lion's share of the donation, pledging a figure of $2.65 billion, which was agreed in a July 2011 peace deal.
Other donors included the European Union and Germany who pledged 27 million euros ($35 million) and 16 million euros respectively. On Sunday Britain said it would offer at least 11 million pounds ($16.5 million, 13 million euros) annually over the next three years.
The meeting itself was a condition of the 2011 peace accord signed by Khartoum and an alliance of rebel splinter groups in the Qatari capital. It was designed to find funding for a six-year, $7.2-billion strategy to move Darfur away from international emergency aid, including food donations, and contribute to more lasting development.
"These pledges cover more than the $177 million needed for urgent" projects, said UN Resident Coordinator Ali Al-Za'tari.
"Large parts of Darfur are ready for recovery and the population badly desires support to become independent from aid, to be able to take their destiny back into their own hands," he said.
Darfur has been plagued by violence since 2003 when rebels rose up in the western Sudanese region to end to what they described as the domination of power by the country's Arab elite.
The fighting which ensued resulted in accusations of genocide and an estimated 300,000 deaths. Some 1.4 million people were displaced by the fighting, many of whom still live in makeshift refugee camps.
Owing to the violence by the Sudanese military quashing the uprising, the International Criminal Court in July 2010 charged Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir on multiple counts including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Although the worst of the fighting is now over, clashes often erupt between tribes and kidnappings and carjackings are frequent. One key rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army, called the Doha talks premature owing to a lack of stability on the ground. They also questioned whether the aid would reach the people of Darfur.
ccp/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)