Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 4 July 2004

Sufficient funding for AU’s Darfur peace efforts indicator of commitment


By Wang Fengfeng, Li Dawei

ADDIS ABABA, Jul 3, 2004 (Xinhua) — African initiatives are nearly always dogged by insufficient funding, however, a senior AU official has said the AU has no funding problem in its ongoing efforts to maintain peace in the troubled Darfur region, a clear indicator of the bloc’s commitment to maintain security on the continent, as prioritized in the AU’s strategic plan of development.

African Union (AU) commissioner for peace and security Said Djinnit said here on Saturday at a press briefing that the regional bloc has a budget of 26 million US dollars for its various efforts undertaken to resolve the crisis that’s been going on in the Sudan’s western region of Darfur since last February.

The AU now has 23 observers on ground in Darfur, and a total number of 60 observers will be deployed to the region. Also, the AU has a number of organs involved in resolving the crisis, and two committees which brought together all parties involved in the Darfur crisis were also operational, and had already convened in Chad’s capital of Ndjamena.

AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare flew to Ndjamena Friday, sat down with the parties and launched a ceasefire commission, which is made up of representatives from the Sudanese government, and the opposition which revolted against Khartoum last February, as well as international mediators including those from the AU, the United States and the host nation Chad.

Djinnit outlined the sources of funding, saying the AU’s peace efforts are funded largely by part of the European Union’s development aid, which was redirected to promote peace in support of development. The fund alone amounted to 250 million euros ( about 305 million dollars), and several western countries, such as Britain, the United States and Germany also contributed specifically to the AU’s peace efforts in the Sudan. The AU’s peace fund also funded part of the efforts.

According to Djinnit, the AU is also involved in the post conflict construction in Darfur and beyond. It has set up a post conflict committee for the Sudan, which sent a team to the war- torn country to assess the situation there.

Djinnit also urged member countries of the AU to do their part in helping the reconstruction of the Sudan.

The AU has prioritized peace and security in its development strategies to be adopted by the AU Assembly made up of African heads of state and government. The ambitious plan outlines the development strategies for the world’s poorest continent’s integration and efforts to resist being left behind in the next 25 years.

However, the plan is shadowed by the problem of funding. The regional bloc needs about 1.7 billion dollars in three years’ time to start up the plan, yet it still has problem raising 600 million dollars for next year’s budget, with Tunisia, Senegal and Mauritius put forward requests to mitigate contribution.

The request was certainly not well-timed, as AU spokesman Desmond Orjiako said Friday that it’s now "premature to look into the request" for contribution mitigation, as "we have even larger program that requires even more funding," referring to the regional bloc’s strategic plan.

AU officials have indicated increased contribution and help from the private sector, civil society and development partners as the sources of funds, but it has yet to work out specifics.

With the unbalance between the AU’s ambitions and its financial situation in mind, the fact that the bloc’s Darfur initiatives have sufficient funding is itself proof of the bloc’s resolution to maintain regional peace and security, and if the regional bloc can keep up with the commitment, its ambitious development plan is to have a bigger chance not to turn out to be another so-called " African failure."

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