KHARTOUM: Turkey's deputy prime minister is to visit Sudan's troubled Darfur region this week to open what is likely Ankara's largest-ever foreign aid project, the Turkish ambassador said Monday.
Ravaged by 11 years of government-rebel warfare along with inter-Arab violence that worsened last year, Darfur has a severe shortage of health workers, a lack of infrastructure, and food scarcity.
Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah Isler is to be accompanied on the Darfur visit by Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu.
A $50-million research and training hospital will be formally inaugurated in Nyala, Sudan's second-largest city and the capital of South Darfur state, ambassador Cemalettin Aydin told AFP.
Ankara has allocated a further $58 million for running the hospital jointly with Sudan over the next five years before a planned handover to Sudanese management, he said.
The project is "maybe the biggest all over the world that Turkey has had in terms of development aid," Aydin said.
The 150-bed facility will provide surgery and offer specialised clinics including for eyes and internal medicine.
Patients are already receiving care from more than 40 Turkish medical staff.
"We think it will be a regional centre," Aydin said, adding that the hospital grew out of a 2006 visit to Nyala by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Isler is to arrive in Sudan late Wednesday ahead of the hospital's formal opening on Friday in Nyala, and he will also hold talks with Sudanese officials, the ambassador said.
The number of health personnel in Darfur is five times lower than the World Health Organisation benchmark, the United Nations has said.
Almost two million people in Darfur are displaced, according to the UN.