The UN and the government of Sudan have signed documents worth $88.5 million in contributions from the State of Qatar for projects in all Darfur states over a period of nearly two years. The majority will be spent on constructing model villages for displaced Darfuris.
The total funding requirement for the projects in Darfur, named Foundational and Short Term (FaST) activities, is $177.4 million, of which the State of Qatar has now contributed about half. The Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), on behalf of the Sudanese government, and the UN Fund for Recovery, Reconstruction and Development in Darfur Fund (UNDF) signed the documents in Khartoum today.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator Marta Ruedas stated: “The signing of the FaST projects today signals a big step forward thanks to the Government of Qatar. We are now able to take a step forward in transitioning from humanitarian assistance to developmental assistance in Darfur as the United Nations and the international community.”
I in a press release on Tuesday, the UN stated that DRA chairman El Tijani Sese showed his appreciation to Qatar and the UN. Sese stated that the government will ensure that all development actors have access to targeted areas and communities in need of recovery and development assistance.
FaST activities include providing improved power supplies to facilitate the returns and reintegration for displaced people and ex-combatants, help out-of-school children with new educational chances, set up water and health facilities, rehabilitating markets, and generating employment for Darfuris.
Thirteen UN agencies, including Unicef and WHO, will collaborate in the implementation of the projects. The activities are to eventually launch longer-term objectives of the Darfur Development Strategy, providing development solutions and peace dividends in the five Darfur states.
The Ambassador of Qatar, Ambassador Rashid Abdel Rahman Al-Naimi stated “Qatar has already completed the first phase of building five model villages to encourage voluntary return of the Darfuris as well as announcing the building of an additional ten villages at the cost of 70 million dollars in different parts of Darfur.”
In July last year, Sese urged the governments of the five Darfur states to conduct a survey of land ownership and available lands, in order to resettle the more than three million displaced people in camps. Community leaders were asked to encourage the displaced to voluntary return to villages that were rebuilt with the financial support of Qatar.
On 28 December, Second Vice-President Hassabo Abdelrahman gave the displaced Darfuris two options: to return to their residents of origin or accept resettlement by the government, within 50 days.