World Bank aid conference on Sudan ends

The World Bank resumed talks Friday on aid to southern Sudan after donors said international funds have done little to alleviate poverty and disease, and with the conflict in Darfur threatening future aid.

Sudanese leaders and international donors reviewed the effectiveness of hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) of aid that poured into the country in 2005.

A peace deal last year put an end to a 21-year civil war that pitted rebels from Sudan's impoverished south against the national government in Khartoum.

Speaking at the talks at the World Bank offices in Paris on Thursday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick called the results of humanitarian aid and economic development projects "frankly mixed."

Jan Pronk, the chief U.N. envoy to the region, went further, saying that "nothing has changed" for people on the ground in southern Sudan.

A separate crisis, in the western province of Darfur, overshadowed the discussions and threatened to disrupt aid plans for the still-impoverished south.

Sudanese leaders urged donors not to link continued funding of the southern Sudan to progress in Darfur peace talks, something that the Americans have suggested.

An estimated 180,000 people have died and some 2 million have been displaced since a 2003 revolt by rebels from Darfur's ethnic African population. The Arab-dominated Sudanese government is alleged to have responded by unleashing Arab militias, who carried out sweeping atrocities against ethnic African villagers, reports the AP.


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