Qatar goes big on Darfur

A boy holds a small Sudanese flag during the United Nations Day celebrations in North Darfur. Pledges to the African country have reached close to $600 million. Photo by: Albert González Farran / U.N.

Donor aid pledges for Darfur have so far reached close to $600 million, more than enough for the $177.4 million needed to lay the groundwork for the region’s reconstruction and recovery at a donor conference in Doha.

The largest pledge came from the host country. Qatar committed $500 million, which will come in the form of grants and contributions, according to minister of state for cabinet affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud.

Other pledges were from Chad, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Jorg Kuhnel, head of communication of the U.N. Development Program in Sudan, told Devex from Doha that “more commitments are expected” from the ongoing pledging conference.

The United Kingdom’s aid package is worth 67 million pounds ($102.67 million), half of which is for Darfur. The money is part of the U.K.’s new, 3-year Sudan Humanitarian Assistance and Resilience program, where focus will be on health care, livelihood and food security.

Turkey pledged $50 million, while the European Union committed €27.5 million ($35.7 million).

The pledges will help start the implementation of “foundational and short-term activities” in Darfur, which are mentioned in the Darfur development strategy paper presented at the conference on Sunday (April 7). That paper seeks $7.2 billion to move Darfur from emergency relief.

Kuhnel said the conference “does not need to raise the $7.2 billion today.”

“What we need to raise is sufficient funds to start implementation and to build credibility of the process. And this we have already achieved at this stage,” he said.

EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs commented that Brussels is “deeply concerned about the rising insecurity in parts of Darfur and restrictions on access for aid.”

None of U.K.’s assistance will go through the government. All will be channeled to U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations. But it’s not yet clear how other donors plan to spend their aid pledges for Darfur.

Aid groups that oppose the idea of the conference are concerned that money pledged by donors may just go to “ongoing wars in Darfur.”

Kuhnel said this is understandable, but those who are participating in the conference believe “the only way to turn the tide in Darfur is to move towards recovery, focusing on areas where recovery and reconstruction is possible.”

“As the Darfur Regional Authority builds credibility for the process, differences in opinion will grow smaller,” Kuhnel suggested.

As for the funding mechanism, Kuhnel said all four channels mentioned in the development strategy paper will be needed, based on discussions among stakeholders. One of them, a common U.N. fund, was established last week.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.