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Sudan seeks $2.6 bln to heal Africa's longest feud

4/10/2005 5:54pm

By Alister Doyle

OSLO, April 11 (Reuters) - Sudan will seek $2.6 billion on Monday to rebuild its south devastated by Africa's longest civil war but donors are wary because of the continued conflict in Darfur.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, leaders of the Sudanese government and the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) will attend 60-nation talks in Oslo on Monday and Tuesday after a January accord to end the 21-year war.

"We've signed a peace deal but we know that peace goes far beyond signing papers," Sudan's First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha said during talks by Sudanese women in Oslo on Sunday evening.

"The accord is a win-win for everybody," said SPLM leader John Garang, attending the talks with Taha. Both said aid needs were huge after a war that has left a generation with no memory of peace.

A report by the United Nations and World Bank, backed by Khartoum and the SPLM, says Sudan needs $2.6 billion in aid to the end of 2007 to help build everything from roads to schools.

More than two million people were killed and four million displaced by the war pitting the mainly animist and Christian south against the Arab north in a conflict complicated by issues of oil, ethnicity and ideology.

Taha said donors should not be reluctant because of the separate conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.

"Sudan needs help," Taha said. "And when people in Darfur see that the prize for peace is support and encouragement by the international community, I think that's a very important incentive for peace to prevail in Darfur."


Last week, however, Annan gave the International Criminal Court (ICC) a sealed list of 51 people suspected of war crimes in Darfur, where Washington says genocide has taken place.

Taha declined to answer a question about the ICC.

Under the January North-South peace deal, Sudan and the SPLM will set up a coalition government, decentralise power, share revenues from oil production and form joint military units.

The $2.6 billion in the aid request is about a third of estimated reconstruction needs of $7.9 billion. Most of the cash will come from Sudan's oil output of 320,000 barrels per day.

In the south, 90 percent of people live in poverty, only about a third of young adults are literate and one child of every four dies before the age of five. Many women spend most of their time collecting water and fuel.

"Women have been the marginalised of the marginalised," Garang said. He drew cheers at the women's meeting by promising free primary education for all -- even though he said that it would only be achieved by 2015.

Last week, a senior U.S. official said that Washington and other rich donors would pledge significant new aid for southern Sudan but added that Darfur cast a shadow.

"If the situation in Darfur continues to worsen neither we nor others will be able to support implementation of the comprehensive (North-South) peace agreement," he told reporters on condition of anonymity. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will attend the Oslo talks on Tuesday.

The Darfur crisis was triggered in February 2003 when rebel groups took up arms against the government in a struggle over power and scarce resources. More than two million people have fled their homes and tens of thousands have died.

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