Donors pledge more than $2bn in support for Sudan, says France's Macron

Participants urge UN Secretary General's personal envoy for Sudan to push for 'coherent mediation'

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, speaks during a session at the international conference on Sudan, Monday, April 15, 2024 in Paris. AP
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International donors pledged more than €2 billion ($2.1 billion) at a Paris conference to support Sudan, one year into a devastating war that has pushed millions on the brink of famine, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.

“This support … will make it possible to respond to the most urgent needs in the sector of food and nutritional security, water health, sanitation, education and protection of the most vulnerable populations,” said Mr Macron.

“Our duty is not to forget what is happening in Sudan,” said Mr Macron.

The French leader spoke at the end of a day-long conference on Sudan that included representatives of about 60 states as well as dozens of international humanitarian organisations and the UN. It was co-hosted by France, Germany and the EU.

“Our collective efforts to ensure that Sudan does not become a forgotten crisis will not waver and we urge all our partners to step up their efforts to bring it to an end,” said the three co-hosts in a joint statement. About €900 million has been pledged by the EU and member states.

The Sudanese civil war has led to the largest displacement crisis in the world, with more than nine million people forced to flee. About 18 million people are also at risk of starvation.

A meeting to discuss political solutions to the war, including participants from European, Arab and East African countries, took place ahead of the pledging conference.

War in Sudan one year on - in pictures

In a declaration of principles, those who attended the political meeting “expressed grave concern over the violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in Sudan”.

“We call on the warring parties and all actors to facilitate unhindered access to civilian populations in need of humanitarian aid in a manner consistent with previous commitments and international obligations,” said the co-hosts.

Participants urged the UN secretary general's personal envoy for Sudan, Algerian diplomat Ramtane Lamamra, to “use his good offices for consistent and unified diplomatic engagement from all key actors within a coherent mediation and pressure strategy and an inclusive consultative forum”.

Humanitarians said they were happy with the pledge but that more was needed. Before the conference, only 6 per cent of the UN's February $4.1 billion appeal for Sudan and neighbouring countries had been met.

Displaced in Sudan - in pictures

Monday's conference brought that figure to close to half of what the UN has requested – but experts said to be careful with figures.

“It’s unclear from that 2 billion what is new money and what has been pledged before,” said Anthony Neal, coordinator of the Sudan forum for international NGOs, which represents 64 organisations.

Speaking to reporters on the sideline of the conference, Mr Neal warned that the funds needed to be disbursed within two months.

“We saw last year with the pledging conference that pledges took a long time to be disbursed to humanitarian actors,” said Mr Neal. “We’re in a different situation now with famine on the doorstep and there’s more of an urgent imperative to get the funding where it needs to go.”

Humanitarians face difficulties in obtaining permits from the two warring parties – the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces – to move across the country.

UN agency WFP has said that its lorries recently took three weeks to reach Darfur. “That's unacceptable,” WFP executive director Cindy McCain told reporters.

Some NGOs, such as Mercy Corps, have called for additional cash transfers to allow those in need to purchase goods directly from the local market.

“Prices are increasing but markets are still functioning,” said Mr Neal. “There is still food availability. The challenge is more that people don’t have cash in their pocket to buy what they need.”

Updated: April 15, 2024, 10:43 PM