Thursday, August 02, 2007

Neighbors to the north increase aid for Darfur

From here:

Canada will provide an additional $48 million in aid for the crisis in Darfur, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay announced Thursday in Charlottetown.

The funding is tied to Tuesday's UN Security Council approval of a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force of 26,000 troops for the troubled Sudanese region. The new force will take over from the current 7,000-strong AU force in December, and the money will help ease the transition.

The conflict in Darfur has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people and forced millions to live as refugees since it began in 2003, when ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they considered decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated government. The Sudanese government has been accused of retaliating by unleashing the Janjaweed, an Arab militia, resulting in widespread atrocities.

MacKay said the money will specifically go to food and transportation.

"It will go predominantly to continuing the provision of foodstuffs, fixed-wing and helicopters and aviation fuel to get this aid out into the regions," he told CBC News. "We have a country approximately the size of Manitoba with very few roads and access to some of these villages is extremely challenging."

Canada is the fourth-largest donor to the Darfur mission, contributing $441 million since 2004.