Protests against Doha donors' conference erupt in Sudan’s Darfur
KHARTOUM - Demonstrations have taken place across Sudan's troubled Darfur region against an international donors' conference which begins on Sunday in the Gulf state of Qatar, a civil society activist said on Saturday.
Some of the 1.4 million people displaced by Darfur's decade-long conflict protested on Friday at their camps near North Darfur's state capital El Fasher, and in Kalma camp, South Darfur, said the activist, who asked not to be identified.
"They demonstrated because there is no security on the ground," the activist added, without saying how many people took part in the protests.
Protesters voiced objection to the Doha conference where about 400 delegates, including representatives of aid agencies and governments from around the world, aim to woo support for a Darfur "recovery" strategy worth billions of dollars.
"What are they going do with this money when there is no security?" the activist asked.
Protests also occurred in North Darfur's Kebkabiya, the Central Darfur capital Zalingei, and Nertiti town in the Jebel Marra region, the activist added.
The Qatar-hosted meeting comes 10 years after a rebellion erupted among the region's non-Arab ethnic groups. Insurgents sought to end what they said was the domination of Sudan's power and wealth by the country's Arab elites.
In response, government-backed Arab Janjaweed militia shocked the world with atrocities against civilians.
While the worst of the violence has long passed, rebel-government clashes continue along with inter-Arab battles, kidnappings, carjackings and other crimes.
Witnesses and victims blame government paramilitaries for "harassment and intimidation inside camps" for Darfur's displaced, a UN panel reported in February.
But the draft Darfur development strategy to be discussed in Doha says delays can only make the region's recovery more difficult.
It seeks $7.2 billion for a six-year effort to move the region away from food handouts and other emergency aid, laying the foundation for lasting development through improving water facilities, the road network and other infrastructure.
It calls for agricultural upgrades, access to financing and other measures to help Darfuris support themselves under a more effective system of local government.