Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas is here! $25million for Salone in January 2007

Christmas seems to have come early for the Government of Sierra Leone. The UN Peacebuilding Commission, is to give $25 million each to Sierra Leone and Burundi as part of its first round of contributions. The Commission was set up to help post-conflict countries avoid a relapse into bloodshed. During two days of country-specific meetings at UN Headquarters in New York, the Commission's members examined the progress made so far by the two African countries in identifying the gaps and priority areas for international support, and in determining how best to marshal and distribute resources. Meeting Wednesday 13th December on the issue of Sierra Leone, which is trying to recover from a decade-long civil war that ended five years ago, the Commission heard from the UN representative in in the country Victor Angelo, how vital it is that its work bring concrete results to help establish the kind of environment that generates confidence and encourages economic recovery. Without giving specific details of how the problem areas can be resolved, Angelo identified tackling massive youth unemployment, offering support to justice and security sector reform and strengthening the democratic process as some of the priority areas where the country can be helped by the Peacebuilding Commission. He said preparations for national elections next year were under way and the Government was working with international partners to review its anti-corruption strategy. But he added that youth unemployment and marginalization remained the biggest threat to stability. The Commission agreed that every effort should be made to deliver the initial contribution of $25 million by January 2007 to ensure that Sierra Leone can begin tackling short-term priorities immediately. A follow-up Commission meeting will be held in March to chart the early progress. During their meeting on Burundi, Commission members also agreed to give the Central African country about $25 million, with a final figure dependent on a review by the office of Carolyn McAskie, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support. Promoting good governance, strengthening the rule of law and ensuring community recovery are priority areas for Burundi, which is suffering from a worrying budgetary shortfall that might mean it is unable to pay its civil servants or security force members. Youssef Mahmoud, the Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Burundi, told the meeting there has been no progress in implementing the comprehensive ceasefire deal reached in September by the country's Government and the armed group known as Forces Nationales de Libération (Palipehutu-FNL). He added that disputes over land ownership, exacerbated by the return of thousands of former refugees, and a sense of impunity for those committing human rights abuses were also hurting the country. The next Commission meeting on Burundi is likely to be held in March.

Source: Christian Monitor - Christmas is here! $25million for Salone in January 2007