Friday, February 02, 2007

Sierra Leone says has yet to receive funding promised under Peacebuilding Commission

UNITED NATIONS: Sierra Leone expressed concern Wednesday it had yet to receive any of the funds allocated to it under a U.N. commission mandated with aiding in post-conflict reconstruction.

The call for the funds by Ambassador Sylvester Ekundayo Rowe came during a Security Council meeting on the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, a product of the 2005 Millennium Summit aimed at helping countries make the difficult transition from war to peace.

"Our concern has always been...that you get promises, big announcements, and it takes a long time for the actual money to come," said Rowe. He said he hoped the funds would be made available in about a week.

Sierra Leone, which emerged from a bloody 11-year-civil war in 2002, and Burundi were the first two countries to receive help under the program, with Burundi allocated $35 million (€27 million). Burundi is still reeling from a civil war that killed more than 250,000 people — a conflict that began in 1993 when Tutsi paratroopers assassinated the country's first democratically elected president, a Hutu.

The assistant secretary-general in the peacebuilding support office, Carolyn McAskie, said U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon "will soon make an announcement regarding Sierra Leone."

The reminder by Sierra Leone underscored the mixed feelings about the commission voiced during the council debate.

While most encouraged its mission of looking after conflict areas once the council moved on to other matters, some stressed the needs for greater efficiency and clarity — a frequent criticism directed at U.N. programs.

"There is a clear need for more systematic work by the commission and more careful preparation of its country meetings in order to increase their effectiveness," said Vitaly Churkin, Russia's U.N. ambassador.

"What is needed is cooperation between the PBC and United Nations agencies in the field that does not infringe on United Nations activities, but rather enhances them," he said.

U.S. Ambassador Terry Miller said the problems faced by post-conflict countries "are not solely — and for some not even mainly — a lack of resources."

Instead, they are "how to ensure activities of the national government and outside partners are well coordinated," that funds are best utilized, and attention to the countries in need does not fade, he said.

Other members said it was too early to scrutinize the commission.

"While it is no secret that the PBC has experienced some difficulties with its internal operation and processes, there is little merit and surely premature, in having the Security Council reviewing or evaluating its activities at this juncture," said Jamaica's U.N. Ambassador Raymond Wolfe.

The World Bank expressed its "full support" for the commission.

"Security and development are interlinked," said Oscar Avalle, special representative of the World Bank to the U.N.

"We need to recognize these links and work closely together to support long-term sustainable peace and development in conflict countries," he said.

Link to Sierra Leone says has yet to receive funding promised under Peacebuilding Commission - International Herald Tribune