Qatar confirmed on Monday it will provide $88 million to kick-start a strategy for lasting development of Sudan's Darfur, which this year has seen its worst violence in a decade.
The commitment, signed in the North Darfur capital El Fasher, comes one year after an international donors' conference in Doha secured $3.6 billion in pledges -- mostly from cash-strapped Khartoum -- to finance the six-year Darfur Development Strategy.
Energy-rich Qatar said at the conference that it would make an immediate contribution of $88 million, half the $177 million needed for critical short-term activities.
"It took some time... We're glad that it's on the right track," the UN chief in Sudan, Ali Al-Za'tari, said when asked why the money had not come sooner.
"They have already transferred, even before we signed anything, $10 million to the United Nations Darfur fund," providing it with its first contribution, Za'tari told AFP from El Fasher.
Qatar will fund 19 UN-sponsored projects across Darfur's five states.
The Development Strategy comes under a July 2011 peace deal which Khartoum signed in Doha with an alliance of rebel splinter factions.
Numerous aspects of the deal have not been implemented on schedule and major rebel groups have refused to sign it.
At the same time, other forms of unrest, including battles between heavily armed tribes, militia violence and criminality, have worsened.