21 March 2013

Sudan Groups Protest Qatar's Hosting of Darfur Donors Conference

Washington — A number of Sudan advocacy groups sent two separate letters of protest to the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the head of the African Development Bank (ADB) Donald Kaberuka over their sponsorship of a Darfur donors conference scheduled for next month in Doha.

The Sudanese government has dispatched delegations over the last few months around the world aimed at securing wide participation in the conference which is expected to also bring western donor nations.

But more than 50 Sudan groups and advocates around the world said in the letters that "efforts to promote investments in Sudan are premature and put the international community at risk of funding a government that continues to perpetrate massive human rights violations against its own people".

"Such investments should not occur prior to a cessation of attacks on civilians, the granting of unhindered humanitarian access across Sudan, and a clear demonstration of progress on all remaining issues, including an inclusive constitutional review process followed by free and fair elections" said the letters seen by Sudan Tribune.

The groups said that "previous Darfur donors' conferences collected billions of dollars, but there are no signs on the ground today of how those billions of dollars were spent".

"Instead, the money, after falling in the hands of the central government, is used against the people of Darfur to fund aerial bombardments and militia attacks,".

The groups also expressed concern that any money pledged at the conference would be at risk of "serving as an elaborate scheme to divert money to fund the ongoing wars in Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile".

They called on Qatar to use its influence reach out to Darfuris in the Diaspora, the main rebel factions, and the Internally Displaced Persons inside Darfur and refugees in Chad "to reach a consensus of how to meet the demands of Darfuri people in providing security, protection, accountability, and a just and lasting peace".

The head of Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) Tijani Al-Sissi said last month that an international mechanism that incorporates the Sudanese government and the DRA will be formed to supervise the spending of the money donors allocate to Darfur projects.

Darfur will not get "a single penny" unless donor trust that their money will be spent in development and reconstruction projects, he said.

Al-Sissi anticipated that contributions of donors will be deposited at the World Bank and the United Nations.

Some international donors including the U.S. and other Western countries have expressed concern about how they can give money to a country under economic sanctions, and how to ensure that their money will be not be used for another purpose by a country experiencing a severe economic crisis.

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