Source: Associated Press
OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Norway and the European Union pledged $935 million in aid to Sudan over the next four years at the start of a donors' conference in Oslo on Tuesday.
Conference host Norway pledged $500 million between 2008 and 2011 to help Africa's largest nation recover from 21 years of internal warfare.
The EU immediately followed up with a promise of $435 million in the same period.
Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha called on other delegates attending the conference to increase support for his country.
"You can't have peace without development, and you can't have development without peace," he said in his opening remarks to the meeting of 38 organizations and donor nations.
The conference is part of a series of donor-nation meetings that began in Oslo in 2005, just after a comprehensive peace agreement ended fighting that cost 2 million lives, many from famine and disease. That conference brought pledges of $4.5 billion in aid.
"The comprehensive peace agreement ended one of the most bloody wars in Africa, and a 21-year war ... in the biggest country in Africa," Norwegian Aid Minister Erik Solheim said. "Though there are difficulties, as we all know, there are a number of provisions in the peace agreement that have been implemented."
Solheim opened the meeting by calling for a moment of silence in memory of Sudanese officials, including Southern Sudan's Defense Minister Dominic Dim Deng, who died in a plane crash last week. Southern Sudan's President Salva Kiir canceled plans to attend the meeting because of the crash.
Most countries are expected to announce their pledges at a special session near the end on the meeting, which lasts through Wednesday.
"It is evident that much has been accomplished," said Taha, the Sudanese vice president. "However, we honestly feel what has been offered (in aid) so far does not satisfy our national expectations and aspirations with the colossal demands of post-conflict reconstruction and recovery."
Norway helped broker the 2005 peace accord, and northern and southern Sudan are now in an interim peace period due to end with a 2011 referendum on whether the south will secede.
The war pitted the Arab Muslim-dominated government in Khartoum against rebels fighting for greater autonomy and a larger share of the country's wealth in the largely African animist and Christian south.
Despite the peace pact, fighting has raged on in Sudan's troubled Darfur province. But Solheim said that must not be allowed to stand in the way of the broader peace effort.
"This is an opportunity to discuss the progress of the peace process, but it is also a donors' conference," said Solheim.
The Sudan Consortium, as the donors group is called, is chaired by the Sudan Government of National Unity, the Government of Southern Sudan and the Norwegian organizers, the World Bank and the United Nations.
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