Britain pledges Darfur aid boost

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Britain pledged extra money to Darfur over the next three years in a bid to help people become self-sufficient, as international partners gathered at a donors’ conference in Doha on Sunday.

London said it would give at least £11 million ($16.5 million, 13 million euros) per year targeted at helping communities to grow their own food and providing skills training to help people find work.

At Sunday’s conference in the Qatari capital, 400 delegates, including representatives of aid agencies and governments from around the world, are gathering in a bid to woo support for a Darfur “recovery” strategy worth billions of dollars.

“Today’s conference is a major opportunity to give the people of Darfur the support they need to escape years of conflict and dependency on emergency aid,” Britain’s international development minister Lynne Featherstone said in a statement.

“It is not good enough to simply offer more handouts.

“Our aid will help the poorest to get the help they need to stand on their own and make them better able to cope when crises occur.”

Typical projects include setting up seed banks and improving irrigation for farmers.

The money will be channeled through United Nations agencies and international non-governmental organizations.

Featherstone called on the Sudanese government to “do their part” too.

“Aid workers must have free, fair and safe access they need to do their job and the people of Darfur need peace so that they can rebuild their lives,” she said.

Some 1.4 million have been people displaced by Darfur’s decade-long conflict.