Thursday, June 30, 2011

Darfur water conference concludes with pledges from Sudan and donors

June 28, 2011 (KHARTOUM)

The two-day conference on Darfur water ended Tuesday in Khartoum with pledges to implement projects in the arid region where the scarcity of water is seen as a reason of the eight year conflict.

Organized by the Sudanese government, UN agencies in Sudan, UNMIS and UNAMID, the Darfur International Conference on Water for Sustainable Peace launched an appeal for $1 billion to fund 6565 inter-related water system projects during six years.

The Sudanese government Tuesday said it would contribute 216 million dollars and also pledged to forgive tens of millions of dollars in Value Added Tax and other import taxes for water supply investments.

Presidential adviser in charge of Darfur file Ghazi Salah –Al-Deen who announced the government’s pledges told the conference that "The Government is committed to preparing an environment suitable for donors to implement these projects."

The Arab League pledged to pay over 100 million dollars as the Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, Japan and Turkey expressed their interest in the water projects and promised to respond positively to the appeal. Also, the UK and USA said they would support the water projects in Darfur.

Nils Kastberg, UNICEF representative for Sudan, said the UN body for children will continue its $23 million annual expenditure on water projects in Darfur.

The head of Darfur peacekeeping operation in stressed in his speech about the need to start recovery projects in the restive region saying "Let there be no more talk about waiting until some far off conditions or benchmarks are met," Gambari said, adding. "The people of Darfur cannot afford to wait any longer".

Following the endorsement of Darfur peace document the government and rebel groups are called to sign a cessation of hostilities and to negotiate a peace agreement to end the armed conflict in westernSudan.

Sudanese government and a rebel group, Liberation and Justice Movement are expected to sign a peace deal next July despite divergences over some issues.