Sweden donates 15 million kronor to Sudan peace bid

Sweden's government on Thursday said it would give 15 million kronor to boost peace efforts in the crisis-ridden Darfur region in Sudan.

“The aid will go in part to the African Union’s efforts in Darfur (AMIS) and in part to the political peace negotiations being held in Abuja” in Nigeria, the government said in a statement.

Successive rounds of AU-sponsored peace talks have so far failed to end the civil war in the region, which since February 2003 has left some 300,000 people dead and displaced about two million, with more than 200,000 people seeking refuge in neighboring Chad.

A ceasefire was signed in April 2004 by the warring parties but has repeatedly been broken.

Some 6,300 African peacekeepers have so far been deployed in Darfur as observers and to help protect civilians in the region.

The money donated by Sweden on Thursday comes in addition to seven million kronor already sent to AMIS and the negotiators in Abuja. The Scandinavian country has also sent in peace negotiation advisors and, as part of European Union-wide support, contributed military experts and police officers.

“Sweden hereby is giving yet another concrete contribution to the AU’s efforts to promote security in Darfur,” Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said in the statement, adding that Sweden would also push for women to participate in the Darfur negotiations.

There is also a need “to increase the protection of women and girls,” she said.