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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Melissa Chemam with RFI

Paris conference raises more than €2bn in aid for war-torn Sudan

France's President Emmanuel Macron looks on as he chairs an international conference to address Sudan's "forgotten" war, in Paris, on 15 April, 2024. AFP - AURELIEN MORISSARD

French President Macron said Monday's Paris conference raised more than €2 billion in aid to help Sudan and its neighbouring countries. The international pledges come exactly a year after the start of the conflict between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which has forced millions to flee and brought the population to the brink of famine.

"This support will be able to respond to the most urgent needs" for Sudan's population ranging from a food crisis to education, Macron said late Monday, adding that European Union countries had pledged nearly half the humanitarian aid total.

"It is a conflict imposed on the people that only produces grief and suffering, provoking one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world," Macron also said.

"There is a terrible cynicism behind this war," he added, accusing regional powers of seeking to exploit the situation for their own interests.

With the conference "our duty was to show that we are not forgetting what is going on in Sudan and there are no double standards" as the world focuses on other crises.

Macron, who in May 2021 had hosted a conference in Paris on Sudan's democratic transition, paid tribute to the 2018 uprising against authoritarian rule that many hoped would usher in a new future for the country.

"No one forgot the revolution of 2018 which raised up so much hope. It was ruined by cynicism... We will get there," he said.

Act together now

The EU has pledged €350 million, while France has added €110 million, three sources said.

Germany already pledged €244 million earlier on Monday.

The United States said it will invest a total of $147 million (€138 million).

"We can manage together to avoid a terrible famine catastrophe, but only if we get active together now," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, adding that, in the worst-case scenario, one million people could die of hunger this year.

The internal conflict has killed over 14,000 people and displaced over 10 million people, according to the UN.

Chad Minister for Social Action, National Solidarity and Humanitarian Affairs Fatime Boukar Kossei and French Deputy Principal Private Secretary to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Celine Place, at the international conference on Sudan, in Paris on 15 April 2024, exactly a year after war broke out between Sudan's army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. AFP - BERTRAND GUAY

Humanitarian catastrophe

Efforts to help millions of people driven to the verge of famine by the war have been held up by continued fighting, restrictions imposed by the warring sides for a year, and demands on donors from other global disasters.

Yet, this conflict in Sudan is threatening to expand, with fighting heating up in and around al-Fashir, a besieged aid hub and the last city in the western Darfur region. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people have sought refuge in the area.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among the many NGOs that have been raising alarm.

"It is obvious that the series of crises - I am thinking of Gaza and Ukraine - have pushed the Sudanese crisis into the background," French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné said at the Paris conference.

The United Nations is seeking $2.7 billion (€2.5 billion) this year for aid inside Sudan, where 25 million people need assistance. An appeal that was just 6 percent funded before the Paris meeting.

It is seeking a further $1.4 billion for assistance in neighbouring countries that have housed hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The international aid effort also faces obstacles in gaining access to the country due to problems obtaining visas and permits from the army and allied government authorities, and the risk of looting in RSF-controlled areas.

The UN chief added at the end of the conference that "crimes against humanity" may have been committed in the acts of war.

(with newswires)

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