World pledges $1.8 billion for crisis-stricken Sudan

Western countries donated some $900 million at a conference hosted by Germany to support Sudan’s struggling transition. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 June 2020

World pledges $1.8 billion for crisis-stricken Sudan

  • Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is desperate for foreign support
  • Inflation topped an annual 100% last month and Sudan's currency has plunged to 141 to the dollar on the black market compared to 55 at the official rate

BERLIN: The international community pledged $1.8 billion at a conference to drum up support for Sudan on Thursday, in an effort to help the northeast African country battle economic woes after the ousting of long-time dictator Omar Al-Bashir.
"This conference opened a new chapter in the cooperation between Sudan and the international community to rebuild the country," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at the video conference co-organised by Germany with Sudan, the European Union and the United Nations.
Some 50 countries and international organisations pledged a total of more than $1.8 billion, while the World Bank Group offered a grant of $400 million.
"This conference marks the start of a process, which will be followed by subsequent engagement by the international community to take stock of the progress made by Sudan in implementing reforms and to allow its partners to adapt their support accordingly," the conference's concluding statement said.
Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok called the conference "unprecedented" and said it laid a "solid foundation for us moving forward".
Sudan has been battling an economic crisis since Bashir was ousted by the military in April 2019 after months of street demonstrations against his three-decade rule.
Facing mounting cases of coronavirus, the country is now also grappling with acute medicine shortages.
Last week, dozens of pharmacists protested in the capital Khartoum holding banners that read: "Lack of drugs kills in silence" and "Medications are a right, not a privilege."
They urged Hamdok, who took office in August heading a post-Bashir transitional administration, to make funds available to import medicine.
Much of the aid pledged on Thursday will go towards economic initiatives, including Sudan's Family Support Program, which aims to provide assistance to millions of vulnerable people.
But direct help is also envisaged to enhance Sudan's efforts to tackle COVID-19.
The pledges included $356 million from the United States, which voiced optimism on Wednesday for a resolution in the coming weeks on Sudan's hopes to be delisted as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Washington first blacklisted Sudan in 1993.
Sudan's Foreign Minister Asma Abdalla told AFP on Tuesday that the government was finishing a deal to compensate victims of the simultaneous 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Once the deal is complete, she said she expected the US to move ahead with the delisting of Sudan "as soon as possible."
Germany said it would contribute 150 million euros ($168 million) and France 100 million euros.
Sudan's new transitional government has sought to repair the country's international standing, but it still faces daunting economic challenges more than a year after Bashir's ouster.
The International Monetary Fund says Sudan's economy "contracted by 2.5 percent in 2019 and is projected to shrink by eight percent in 2020" because of the pandemic.
Other challenges include galloping inflation, massive public debt and acute foreign currency shortages.


Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

Updated 15 min 49 sec ago

Iraqis mourn expert on armed groups killed by unknown gunmen

  • Gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Hisham Al-Hashimi outside his home in the Zeyouneh area of Baghdad
  • Al-Hashimi was a well-connected security analyst

BAGHDAD: Iraqi mourners and relatives on Tuesday carried the body of a respected analyst shot and killed the previous night in Baghdad after receiving threats from Iran-backed militias. Many Iraqis expressed their shock over the slaying.
Hisham Al-Hashimi, 47, was gunned down on Monday night outside his home in Baghdad’s Zeyouneh neighborhood. His casket, draped in the Iraqi flag, was taken to his family home before being driven to the burial site.
Al-Hashimi, a leading expert on Daesh and other militant organization, was a regular fixture on Iraqi television and his expertise was often sought by government officials, journalists and researchers.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, which comes weeks after he confided to close friends that he had received threats from militia groups. The slaying also coincides with a spate of rocket attacks targeting US interests that has been blamed on Iran-backed armed groups.
Authorities launched a raid last week in Baghdad, in which they detained 14 members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah group, suspected of orchestrating the attacks. All but one detainees were released days later.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said Iraqi security forces would “spare no effort” in pursuing Al-Hashimi’s killers.

Hours after Al-Hashimi’s killing, authorities fired the top police officer for Zeyouneh and launched an investigation into his activities, according to an order from the prime minister’s office, seen by The Associated Press.
Condemnations from Iraqi officials poured in as shock reverberated across the country at the news of Al-Hashimi’s killing.

Nechirvan Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, said “authorities must find the perpetrators of this terror act and bring them to justice,” in a tweet on Tuesday.