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Europe pledges to boost aid to Sudan on unwelcome war anniversary

In News, World
April 15, 2024

Germany promises $260m as European diplomats meet in Paris to mark the first anniversary of the conflict.

Germany will provide 244 million euros ($260m) in humanitarian aid to Sudan, one year after the country plunged into war, as other European countries are also expected to pledge more funds.

European diplomats met in France on Monday to mark the anniversary of the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced 8.5 million since fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) last April.

“We can manage together to avoid a terrible famine catastrophe, but only if we get active together now,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, announcing the pledge of funds. She added that in the worst-case scenario, one million Sudanese could die of hunger this year.

At the conference, France is seeking contributions from the international community and attention to a crisis officials say is being crowded out of the global conversation by ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

“For a year the Sudanese people have been the victims of a terrible war,” French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said. Yet they had also suffered from “being forgotten” and “indifference”.

“This is the reason for our meetings today: to break the silence surrounding this conflict and mobilise the international community,” he said in opening remarks.

French Foreign and European Affairs Minister Stephane Sejourne European, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Commissioner Janez Lenarcic and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell attend a meeting with officials as part of an International Humanitarian Conference for Sudan and Neighbouring Countries at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris, France, April 15, 2024.
French Foreign Minister Sejourne, German Foreign Minister Baerbock, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and others attend a meeting with officials as part of an international humanitarian conference for Sudan and neighbouring countries in Paris, France [Sarah Meyssonnier/Pool/Reuters]

Donors will hopefully pledge “well over a billion euros” ($1.07bn) at the conference, a French diplomatic source told the Reuters news agency, without specifying where the rest of the money will come from.

The United States, hoping the Paris conference could loosen purse strings elsewhere, also planned to announce an additional $100m in aid, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom on Monday announced sanctions against businesses linked to the warring parties in Sudan.

The foreign office said “strict measures” would include an asset freeze on companies linked to the SAF and the RSF.

“We continue to see appalling atrocities against civilians, unacceptable restrictions on humanitarian access and an utter disregard for civilian life,” said British foreign minister, David Cameron.

“The businesses that support the warring parties must be held to account, alongside those responsible for human rights abuses. The world must not forget about Sudan. We urgently need to end the violence.”

‘Humanitarian disaster’

Sudan descended into conflict on April 15, 2023, when simmering tensions between the military and the RSF exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and the rest of the country.

The war has since devastated infrastructure, prompted warnings of famine and displaced millions. Some 1.8 million people have fled Sudan, many to neighbouring Chad, now also suffering a humanitarian crisis; another 6.7 million are internally displaced.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, although death toll estimates are highly uncertain, and each side has been accused of committing war crimes. Both sides have largely denied the accusations against them.

The United Nations said recently Sudan is experiencing “one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent memory” and “the largest internal displacement crisis in the world”.

It has made a call for $2.7bn for aid inside the country, where 25 million people need assistance, and another $1.4bn for assistance in neighbouring countries that have housed hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Last week, US Special Envoy Tom Perriello called the international response so far “pitiful”. “We’re at 5 percent of the needed amount,” he said.

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