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Swiss make aid pledge to Sudan

Millions face starvation in Sudan over the coming weeks Keystone

Switzerland has pledged $75 million (SFr89.5 million) in aid to Sudan over the next three years at an international donor conference in Norway.

This content was published on April 12, 2005 - 14:20

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) told delegates that Bern was also willing to reconsider debts owed to it by Sudan.

However, the SDC’s deputy director, Remo Gautschi, stressed that any write-off could only take place within an international framework. Sudan’s debts to Bern total SFr160 million.

The move comes a day after United Nations Development Programme head Mark Malloch Brown slammed Switzerland over the size of its official development-aid budget, saying it had still not yet reached its stated goal of 0.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Gautschi said that the SDC’s activities in the country would shift focus from humanitarian assistance to development cooperation to respond to the growing gravity of the situation on the ground.

He added that, in the future, aid distribution would be made easier thanks to the existence of the first topographical map of southern Sudan, created by the SDC and Bern University.

International appeal

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan opened the two-day conference in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on Monday, appealing for a concerted international effort to help Sudan.

Annan said that two million Sudanese would face starvation within the next two weeks.

Sudan is asking for $2.7 billion in emergency aid to help reconstruct its southern and northern regions, which were devastated during a civil war that lasted 21 years and claimed two million lives.

A peace deal signed in January between the warring factions - the ethnic Arab-dominated Sudanese government in Khartoum in the north and the black African separatists who control the south - helped bring the fighting to an end.

A power-sharing government is now in place, but donors are warning that peace could unravel in the south if violence is not curtailed in Darfur, in the west of the country.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The 21-year civil war in Sudan's northern and southern regions came to end in January 2005 when a peace deal was signed.
A power-sharing government is now in place.
The war between the ethnic Arab-dominated Sudanese government in Khartoum in the North and the black African separatists who control the South claimed two million lives.

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In brief

Sudan is asking for $2.7 billion in emergency reconstruction funds to rebuild its southern and northern regions, which were devastated by war.

Sixty countries took part in the donor conference in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

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