'Darfur needs development'

2010-03-21 14:10

Cairo - International donors gathered in Cairo on Sunday with the aim of raising two billion dollars for the reconstruction of Darfur, Sudan's western region devastated by a seven-year-war.

The one-day conference has been organised by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, (OIC), which groups 57 members to form the world's largest Islamic assembly, and is co-chaired by Egypt and Turkey.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit urged those countries present to make significant pledges.

"The Darfur issue is mainly an issue of development. We are convinced that the key is to improve development and raise the standard of living for the Darfur citizen," he told the opening session.

Recent agreements

He said recent agreements signed between the government of Sudan and rebel groups were "important and need to be implemented."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also highlighted the importance of the agreements, but said a solution to the Darfur conflict was not just political.

Peace in Darfur "will not only be achieved through political agreements but also through humanitarian and development assistance," Davutoglu said.

Sudan is represented by former Darfur rebel and now presidential adviser Minni Minawi, as well as ministers and senior officials.

Framework peace accord

Negotiations between the government of Sudan and Darfur rebel groups led on Thursday to the signing of a framework peace accord between Khartoum and a small Darfur rebel group, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM).

Last month, an accord was inked by Khartoum and the Justice and Equality Movement, in a move hailed by the international community as a major step toward bringing peace to Darfur.

Around 25 non-OIC member states and 50 international organisations and NGOs have also been invited to take part in Sunday's gathering.

The money the conference will raise is to finance, in co-operation with Khartoum, a long list development projects in agriculture, water supply, health and education.