United Nations

A/51/213


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

17 July 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/51/213
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Item 21 (b) of the preliminary list*

*   A/51/50.


          STRENGTHENING OF THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AND DISASTER
          RELIEF ASSISTANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS, INCLUDING SPECIAL
          ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE:  SPECIAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE TO INDIVIDUAL
                             COUNTRIES OR REGIONS

                     Assistance for the reconstruction and
                            development of Djibouti

                        Report of the Secretary-General


                               I.  INTRODUCTION

1.   The present report is submitted to the General Assembly pursuant
to resolution 50/58 F of 12 December 1995 on assistance for the
reconstruction and development of Djibouti.  It provides a brief
description of the progress made in the implementation of the
resolution in Djibouti.  


                            II.  GENERAL SITUATION

2.   The Republic of Djibouti is strategically situated in the Horn of
Africa at the juncture of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.  It has a
coastline of 370 kilometres and common borders with Eritrea in the
north, Ethiopia in the west and south and Somalia in the south-east. 
The country covers an area of 23,000 square kilometres characterized
by an arid climate and extremely limited water and agricultural
potential.  Annual rainfall averages only 130 millimetres and there is
no significant food production.

3.   The country's population is estimated at 520,000, according to the
1991 census.  With an annual natural growth rate estimated at
3.1 per cent, the population is projected to double in 22 years.  In
addition, the presence of a large group of refugees and displaced persons from
neighbouring countries has placed enormous strain on the meagre resources
available.  The total number of refugees and displaced persons is not
known, but estimates range from 100,000 to 150,000.  The majority of
Djiboutians are from the Afar and Issa ethnic tribes.

4.   The population is mostly urban and is concentrated in the capital. 
This high urban concentration has led to many economic and social
problems.  In terms of human development, Djibouti is ranked,
according to the Human Development Report 1994, as 163rd among the 173
countries reviewed.  According to that report, the adult literacy rate
is no more than 19 per cent, while life expectancy at birth is one of
the lowest in the world (48 years).  Women play an active role in the
economy of Djibouti and constitute 32.2 per cent of the labour force. 
In the formal urban sector, they are employed mainly as clerical or
administrative staff and in rural areas they play an important role in
livestock raising.

5.   The economy of Djibouti is dual and characterized by an important
informal sector directed towards customers with low purchasing power
and by a modern economy based on a solid port and airport
infrastructure, serving a population with high purchasing power but
depending almost entirely on imports.

6.   Djibouti enjoys one of the most liberal economic regimes in
Africa.  Its currency is freely convertible and there are no controls
on capital movement.

7.   Because of the lack of natural resources, the economy of Djibouti
is based on services, which contribute about 70 per cent of the
country's gross domestic product (GDP), while the agricultural and
industrial sectors remain very small.  Djibouti enjoys a comparative
advantage in the region thanks to its efficient port infrastructure,
banking establishments, telecommunications facilities and to a certain
extent the airport and the railroad link with Ethiopia.

8.   Because of the political instability in the region and the
resulting decline in goods and services, the economy has been
declining in the past few years.  Since all its needs are imported and
there are few exports, Djibouti has a structural trade deficit and the
overall budget deficit is covered in part by external aid.

9.   Real GDP grew on average by 4 per cent over the period from 1988
to 1992, fuelled in part by a surge in the port activity resulting
from the civil war and in part by the transit of massive food aid to
the hinterland of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia.  The armed conflict
in the north and south-west, which forced most of the country's
development projects to a brutal halt, coupled with the dire socio-
political situations prevailing in Ethiopia and Somalia, accelerated
markedly the deterioration of Djibouti's economy.

10.  At the social level, living conditions are very difficult,
characterized by poor nutrition as a result of low purchasing power,
poor health, widespread diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS,
inadequate educational facilities and limited qualified manpower. 
Above all, unemployment and urban overpopulation constitute critical
problems, which are exacerbated by the influx of refugees from
neighbouring countries.

11.  According to available data, more than 40 per cent of health
services are provided to foreigners who are attracted by the proximity
and the quality of Djibouti's hospitals and health centres.  With the
recent conflicts in the Horn of Africa, refugees (mostly from Ethiopia
and Somalia) have increased the number of non-Djiboutians who benefit
from the national health services.  The health services are free for
both nationals and refugees and with the increasing numbers of
beneficiaries the health system can no longer provide adequate
services to the entire population.  Moreover, the armed conflicts in
the north of the country have caused physical damage to the health
infrastructure.

12.  The national education system consists of six years of primary
education, four years of lower secondary education and three years of
secondary general education.

13.  Djibouti's primary education is at present provided by a network
of 64 public and 9 private schools.  Out of the 33,005 children who
were in primary schools in 1994, 29,715 were enrolled in public
schools and 3,290 in private or Koranic schools.  Student-teacher
ratios in primary schools range from 34 to 43 students per teacher in
the rural areas and are about 46 in the city.  Student-classroom
ratios range from 35 to 81 students per classroom and average about
65.  Some schools with large numbers of students are forced to deal
with the problem by holding double shifts, a practice that may have to
be extended if the growing demand for more public education cannot be
met by increasing investment in more schools.

14.  The employment situation is closely linked to the educational
sector of the country.  Each year, more than 4,000 young people who
have had no access to a general secondary education or to any kind of
professional training arrive on the labour market without any
qualification.  The number is expected to grow over the next few
years, in particular in the capital.

15.  It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of enterprises are
within the informal and semi-informal sector, including a large number
of informal micro-enterprises, which play a key role in the economy of
the country.


                    III.  OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT SITUATION

16.  The recent changes in the region - the collapse of the old regime
in Ethiopia, the independence of Eritrea and the civil war in Somalia
- have affected Djibouti, which in the past two years has also
experienced its own internal strife between the Government and
opposition groups.

17.  The political negotiation initiated shortly after the multi-party
presidential elections of April 1993 culminated in the official
signature of a national Peace and Reconciliation Accord.  The main
provisions of this agreement further confirm the Government's
willingness to involve the Front pour la restauration de l'unite' et
la de'mocratie (FRUD), the rebel group, and all opposition groups in
the democratization process.

18.  In order to create an environment of peace and social stability,
the Government has initiated a process of demobilization of soldiers,
whose numbers had increased from several thousand to some 20,000. 
This process may take some time, as opportunities to reintegrate the
demobilized population into civilian life are not readily apparent and
need to be explored in the overall context of the rehabilitation and
reconstruction programmes.

19.  The Government's present thinking is to provide each demobilized
soldier with a financial allowance, which would facilitate the
demobilization process.  This would, however, require a substantial
amount of cash, which may not be available in view of the budget
deficit spurred by the war effort and the decline in government
revenues.

20.  The burden of the war effort, combined with a swelling civil wage
bill, have further depressed the country's financial situation.  Faced
with financial obligations far exceeding its capacity, the Government
has turned to once cash-rich public enterprises and drawn heavily on
their reserves, to the point of depletion.  As this internal source of
financing is drying up, the volume of external aid, which had been
significant, is now on a downward trend.

21.  According to the World Bank, the 1993 budget deficit stood at an
alarming 12 per cent of GDP.  Despite a slight improvement in 1994,
the budget deficit is likely to widen as a direct result of a
sustained decrease in fiscal and non-fiscal revenues brought about by
mounting inflationary pressures spurred by excessive borrowing from
the banks.  All this will culminate in less revenue being collected,
which in turn will make the reimbursement of cumulated arrears
(projected to reach 25 billion Djibouti francs in 1995) all the more
problematic.  A worsening current account position (10 per cent of GDP
in 1993) compounds the overall situation of the economy.

22.  The root causes of Djibouti's problems are economic.  These are in
part structural and in part compounded by continuous inflows of
refugees from neighbouring countries undergoing war or civil strife. 
The country's frail economy is able to absorb less than 60 per cent of
the workforce and most of those employed earn only subsistence wages. 
Consequently, most Djiboutians are poor and poverty is on the rise
because of diminishing trade links with Ethiopia and Somalia.

23.  The overall situation of the country is also characterized by
limited pasture land and a high rate of livestock mortality.  If there
is no rainfall in the near future, the ground-water level will be
reduced, resulting in a shortage of drinking water.  Given the
increasing influx of immigrants and refugees into Djibouti, the need
for water is increasing.  In the town of Djibouti, with 65 per cent of
the total population, water sources in certain coastal areas have
reached a high degree of salinity and imperil the agro-pastoral areas
that were developed a few years ago.  The drought is therefore not
only the result of climatic change but is also structural to the
extent that it is aggravated by overexploitation and consumption of
scarce water resources.  The situation has been exacerbated by the
internal conflicts and the resultant displacement of the rural
populations, who are confined to remote areas with no pasture for
their livestock.  They are now receiving food assistance from the
national army.

24.  With regard to social conditions, Djibouti is facing a serious
health situation, with widely prevalent epidemic diseases.  There are
3,000 new cases of tuberculosis every year and malaria is on the
increase.  Sexually transmitted diseases are also increasing,
signalling a situation that is difficult to control.  Malnutrition
continues to be a major public health problem, in particular in the
prevailing situation of economic crisis and pressures from refugees
and displaced persons.  Drought is menacing over 100,000 people with
the prospect of famine.


                               IV.  MAJOR ISSUES

25.  The situation in Djibouti has been adversely affected by the
evolving critical situation in the Horn of Africa, the presence of
tens of thousands of refugees and persons displaced from their
countries, the extremes of local climate - cyclical droughts,
torrential rains and floods such as those which occurred in 1989 - and
the extremely limited financial capacity of the country to implement
reconstruction and development programmes.

26.  In addition, fighting between the Government and armed opposition
groups in the north of the country resulted in a large displacement of
the civilian population.  It also resulted in the recruitment of
11,500 soldiers who must now be demobilized and reintegrated into
civilian life.

27.  The Government of Djibouti has expressed a strong desire for the
demobilization of soldiers.  The idea of demobilization started in
early 1994 when the Government announced that security problems were
under control in the previously war-affected areas.  So far, steps
have been taken to prepare the separation from the national army of
11,500 soldiers enlisted during the two-year conflict.  The
demobilization includes new recruits and former soldiers who enlisted
during the hostilities.

28.  Although the Government has undertaken to pay separation fees for
the demobilized soldiers, it is highly unlikely that the
demobilization process can proceed without external support.  Given
the need for a large reconstruction scheme, the food aid will be an
incentive for the former soldiers and displaced persons to participate
in rehabilitation activities involving the basic infrastructure, such
as wells, health units and schools.

29.  Djibouti has become a refugee hosting country.  The increasing
number of displaced persons and refugees, combined with the continuous
flow of illegal immigrants in search of jobs and assistance, has
become a matter of great concern to the Government.

30.  Although there are no precise figures of the number of refugees,
internally displaced persons and illegal immigrants, the Government
believes that there are over 100,000 persons in need of assistance in
the capital alone.  It also claims that an equal number are affected
by the drought.

31.  Djibouti suffers from recurrent droughts.  The first rains of 1994
started late in the southern parts of the country, while the northern
region has not seen rain for over two years.  Despite a normal
rainfall in 1995, water sources remain low, resulting in migration of
people to the capital.

32.  Food requirements are met mostly through food imports, averaging
some 60,000 tons of cereals annually.  Djibouti's normal structural
food aid requirement stands at about 18,000 tons.  In 1995, the World
Food Programme (WFP) provided 4,774 tons of commodities, valued at
about US$ 3,011,731, to assist Somali and Ethiopian refugees from
Somalia, but also to local schoolchildren, orphans and hospital
patients and participants in food-for-work schemes.

33.  The health situation has immediate and long-term implications. 
The Government is providing medical services not only to its own
people but also to a large number of refugees from Ethiopia and
Somalia seeking free medical treatment in Djibouti.  Those refugees
also bring with them diseases such as tuberculosis.  While the
immediate need is to strengthen the country's capacity to address the
problems of tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS and malnutrition through
immunization campaigns and provision of essential drugs, a longer-term
solution must be found at the regional level to improve the health
situation in the neighbouring countries.

34.  Djibouti's education is currently under pressure to meet the
challenges of growing unemployment, a rising demand from a young
population and a large influx of refugees.

35.  High drop-out rates of about 10 per cent per annum for the last
two grades of primary school and an estimated drop-out rate of over
30 per cent at the end of the primary cycle, combined with only about
27 per cent of those completing primary education gaining a place in
secondary school, represent a shocking loss of opportunity and
potential.  This high level of attrition at a stage when continuing
learning is both optimal and desirable represents, from an educational
and manpower planning perspective, a wasted national opportunity to
expand and strengthen the human resource pool for the enhancement of
national productivity.  Improvement in the overall quality of both
primary and secondary education will require tackling the internal
inefficiencies in the existing system and improving services in
keeping with the nation's need for an educational content responsive
to the changes occurring in the national market economy.

36.  Technical and vocational education in Djibouti begins at the
secondary-school level.  Opportunities of a limited and very specific
kind exist for some students to pursue professional training. 
Clearly, there is an ongoing need to give the issue of growing
national unemployment, especially among school drop-outs and youths,
the urgent attention it deserves.

37.  No active employment policies have been elaborated owing to the
weak institutional capacity of the Ministry of Labour and Professional
Training.  The challenge, in terms of employment, is to be able to
design a system that would target the unemployed according to the
different categories:  unskilled, school drop-outs, demobilized
soldiers, refugees and women.


                        V.  ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS

38.  One characteristic of the operational activities of the United
Nations system in Djibouti is the sustained and tight collaboration of
all United Nations agencies present in the country to coordinate their
efforts in order to respond to the growing social and economic problem
of the refugees.  The refugee situation in Djibouti is affecting not
only general security but also the health sector.  Djibouti's health
infrastructure, although not fully developed, is accessible to all the
local population.  The influx of refugees from neighbouring countries
affected by war who are benefiting from the health services has
contributed to placing a heavy burden on the already weak public
health infrastructure.  That situation has also contributed to a
deterioration of the environment and of the sanitation facilities in
the country, especially in the capital, and resulted in an outbreak of
cholera in July 1993.

39.  The organizations of the United Nations system present in Djibouti
are constantly dealing with that problem by developing activities
related to repatriation, food distribution and education by initiating
regrouping efforts to resettle refugees in camps and by clean-up
operations in the capital.

40.  Three months after the adoption of resolution 50/58 F by the
General Assembly, the Administrator of the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) undertook an official visit to Djibouti to discuss
with both the national authorities and the donor community the
reconstruction and rehabilitation needs of the country.

41.  A special ad hoc contribution announced by UNDP has recently been
translated into a fully approved project document for $428,000.  The
project seeks to address pressing rehabilitation needs through pilot
activities in the three most affected areas of the country.  It also
aims at strengthening the capacity of the National Rehabilitation
Committee in the design, implementation and monitoring of a coherent
and well articulated national programme of rehabilitation based on the
lessons learned from pilot exercises.  Joint technical assessments
missions, involving government representatives, the United Nations
Disaster Management Team, local and international non-governmental
organizations, were to undertake field visits in June to identify
priority actions based on intense consultation with the populations. 
A full-fledged programme is expected to be elaborated and submitted to
donors for financing by the end of 1996 or early 1997.

42.  A major component of the structural adjustment programme remains
the demobilization of up to 12,000 soldiers.  UNDP has provided
financial support to strengthen the National Demobilization
Committee's capacity to implement the programme prepared by the World
Bank.  In response to the Government's intention to revive the round-
table process initiated in 1995, UNDP is intensifying consultations
with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the
major bilateral agencies to enlist their support for the organization
and success of such meetings.  Preliminary reactions from various
quarters point to the convening of the round table in the last quarter
of 1996.

43.  In March and April 1996, the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) conducted a repatriation operation
of 4,052 Ethiopians, reducing the total number of refugees from 23,991
to 19,939.  In addition, over 200 urban refugees have been
repatriated, reducing the urban refugee population to some 1,000. 
This follows a similar operation conducted between July and
October 1995, which enabled the repatriation of 15,059 urban refugees
to Ethiopia.  A tripartite (Government of Djibouti/Government of
Ethiopia/UNHCR) assessment mission to Ethiopia to determine the number
of Djiboutian refugees in Ethiopia is envisaged.  The ultimate aim is
to repatriate an estimated number of 18,000 Djiboutians who fled
during the civil war.  As at 1 January 1996, there were 4,756
Ethiopians residing in the three remaining camps and 16,000 Somali
refugees.  The uncertain security and political climate have so far
hampered any effective repatriation of Somali refugees.  

44.  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is providing financial
assistance ($40,000) to equip 17 primary schools, representing 77
classrooms in four districts (Obock, Dikhil, Ali Sabieh and
Tadjourah).  This is carried out in cooperation with the French
Government, whose contribution covers essentially the physical
rehabilitation of the school infrastructure (buildings, etc.).  In a
joint undertaking with the Italian Cooperation Agency (COOPI), UNICEF
also contributed $60,000 to help strengthen mobil health teams in the
Yoboki and Ali Sabieh areas and provide equipment for six health
centres and essential drugs.

45.  The World Food Programme (WFP) is pursuing its assistance to
schools, hospitals and orphanages.  Provision of school meals has been
instrumental in increasing enrolment among rural children.  In the
last three years over 4,000 children in schools have participated in
this project, 37 per cent of whom were female.  Similarly, food aid to
the health sector acts as an incentive for out-patients to attend
centres for continuous treatment against tuberculosis and as a
budgetary saving by providing rations through hospital meals to in-
patients.  To date, more than 3,000 recipients country wide benefit
from the food assistance programme.  Food aid through food-for-work
has created opportunities for about 2,000 recipients, 25 per cent of
them women, in both rural and urban areas and has contributed to the
improvement of rural infrastructure, reforestation and other
activities aiming at increasing the self-reliance of the rural
population.  Currently WFP is cooperating with donor representatives
in Djibouti concerning a drought emergency operation to provide food
aid to some 50,000 nomads whose animals have been affected by
prolonged severe drought and animal sickness, with a consequent loss
of income.

46.  Concern about seeing beyond emergencies to long-term development
accounts for the idea of food-for-work projects.  The rationale behind
those projects is that they provide additional food for people whose
incomes are too low for them to have access to sufficient food for a
healthy and productive life; the food supplied can also result in a
substantial addition to their income.  For this purpose, intensive
infrastructure work has been undertaken in Djibouti by poor
households, with food provided as an incentive.  The objective of
these multi-purpose food-for-work projects is to assist schemes for
the improvement of rural infrastructure, reforestation training and
other activities aimed at increasing the self-reliance of the rural
population.  As mentioned above, food aid through food-for-work has
created opportunities for about 2,000 recipients, 25 per cent of them
women, in both rural and urban areas.

47.  A major accomplishment of UNDP is the identification of the new
role of the private sector, now considered by the Government and the
donor community one of the main engines for economic and social
development.  In 1993, UNDP played a leading role in this regard by
pushing for institutional reform and legal restructuring of the
private sector legislation through a reshaping of the Djiboutian code
of commerce, that is, fiscality, an investment code, work legislation,
investment promotion and so on.  To that effect, a $500,000 grant was
made available.

48.  Protection of the environment has also been an important aspect of
the UNDP agenda.  A national workshop on sustainable development and
environmental management was held in December 1993 together with a
disaster management workshop in October 1993.  The two workshops
helped identify national needs and develop a strategy to put forward
for the development of new legislation.  Currently a project proposal
with $350,000 aimed at strengthening the national capacity for
environmental management and at preparing the National Environmental
Action Plan is being reviewed by UNDP.

49.  The Government of Djibouti continues to be seriously concerned
about the presence in the country of a large number of refugees,
displaced persons and illegal immigrants, victims of the instability,
poverty and severe droughts witnessed by the subregion in recent
years, who are putting heavy pressures on Djibouti's limited resources
and overstretching the social and economic infrastructures.  The
authorities are estimating the number of these categories of persons
at 120,000.

50.  The living conditions in the refugee camps are at a minimal level
and there are no prospects for the introduction of income-generating
activities.  The four camps are operated by the Office national
d'Assistance aux re'fugie's et sinistre's and are located in barely
accessible sites close to the Ethiopian and Somali borders.  Food
assistance is provided by WFP, the medical and nutritional sectors are
covered by the Association of Medical Doctors of Asia and the
educational activities for some 1,500 refugee children in the camp
schools are funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  The Evangelical Protestant Church of
Djibouti provides limited social assistance to urban refugees living
in the capital.  In addition to its role of providing international
protection to refugees, the UNHCR branch office in Djibouti funds and
ensures the overall supervision and monitoring of the assistance
programme.  The initial assistance budget for 1995 is $1.5 million,
not including the estimated $4 million in food assistance provided by
WFP.

51.  UNDP and WHO are involved in the fight against AIDS.  In 1993,
they contributed to the creation of a counselling unit that will help
reduce the impact of the epidemic through education of the population,
public sensitization and awareness programmes.  The unit was
established in the context of the National Committee for the Fight
against AIDS, which UNDP has also supported by training its members. 
A project proposal drawn up by the members of the National Committee
is also under evaluation by the AIDS Division of UNDP.  In May 1995,
UNDP and the Government signed a project document committing $89,000
out of UNDP country resources to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  In the
context of the United Nations/AIDS joint and co-sponsored programme, a
thematic group, comprising all United Nations agencies concerned, has
been established by the Resident Coordinator.

52.  The main concern of the Government of Djibouti regarding the
health sector is to create a health system accessible to all.  To do
so, an effort has been made to develop primary health care, to
establish rural health centres and to train health staff.

53.  A project will be implemented in close cooperation with WHO to
prevent HIV/AIDS by raising public awareness through the work of
community health workers with high-risk groups.


                               VI.  CONCLUSIONS

54.  Djibouti's difficulties and problems are related first and
foremost to the conflicts in the Horn of Africa, which have created a
large movement of displaced populations and reduced the country's
revenues as a result of loss of trade and services.  In addition, the
recurring emergency situations (drought, floods, epidemics), combined
with large-scale destruction of livestock, water sources, health and
education facilities as a result of the war in the country, have
considerably increased Djibouti's emergency and humanitarian needs.

55.  As a result of a major repatriation programme to Ethiopia and a
stricter national policy, the pressure from refugees, displaced
persons and illegal immigrants has been somewhat alleviated.  However,
the problem of displaced persons resulting from the civil strife
(1991-1993) remains and needs to be adequately addressed through
specific actions, including the rehabilitation of affected areas and
reintegration schemes for the returnees.  As for the remaining
refugees in Djibouti (most of whom are of Somali origin), UNHCR will
continue to seek, in partnerships with all concerned, durable
solutions to their plight.

56.  In this respect, the most feasible long-term solution to the
presence of the refugees in Djibouti would require regional political
agreements that would enable these immigrants to return to their
countries and keep potential newcomers in their places of origin. 
This long-term action would require the formal political commitment of
the concerned countries and could be facilitated by the United Nations
system in close cooperation with the Djibouti-based Intergovernmental
Authority for Drought and Development.

57.  There is also an urgent need to support the Government's
demobilization programme through budgetary support in order to
alleviate the financial constraints of demobilizing thousands of
military personnel.  Demobilization is a major issue that needs to be
addressed in a larger context of rehabilitation and development, and
is a necessary condition to the restoration of peace, stability and
national reconciliation.  It will encourage the internally displaced
to regain confidence and return to their homes, and will also
alleviate the heavy financial burden on the national budget.

58.  The immediate need is for a rehabilitation and reconstruction of
damaged or destroyed social infrastructures (schools, dispensaries,
water facilities) in all regions that have been affected by civil
strife.  External assistance sources will be requested to provide the
necessary financial support, as well as equipment and materials,
needed for the reconstruction phase.

59.  In order to initiate the rehabilitation process, an effort will
need to be made by the authorities to encourage displaced populations
to return to the towns and villages they have left before serious
efforts are made to restore public services.  In this way, community
participation in the renovated facilities will transfer to the
community itself a sense of pride and ownership in the running and
maintenance of services at the local level.

60.  The Government is facing critical financial difficulties resulting
from the civil strife in the country in the past few years.  It is
estimated that at least $30 million will be urgently needed to
mitigate the socio-economic impact of the war.  In order to alleviate
the financial difficulties, the Government has initiated a
demobilization process of some 12,000 military personnel.  However, as
this process will take several years to complete, it is appropriate to
plan short-term budgetary aid and to assist in the economic and social
reintegration of those demobilized.

61.  The large numbers of primary school drop-outs with insufficient
skills to enter a restricted labour market and the increasing numbers
of young illiterate suggest a problem that needs serious
consideration.  The challenge will be to try to reform the educational
system in order to make it less costly, more accessible and more
relevant to the needs of the country.  Unless more effort is made to
educate and train Djiboutians, the kind of manpower development
challenges now facing the country's fragile and declining economy will
be difficult to meet, both in the short and the long term.

62.  In order to understand better the emergency situation, it is
important to assess separately the short-term needs of the different
population groups, namely, refugees, illegal immigrants, internally
displaced persons and demobilized soldiers.

63.  While a comprehensive survey should be carried out to ascertain
the precise nature of damage incurred and to determine the technical
specifications of the equipment required, reports from the authorities
suggest that a number of schools and dispensaries in the Obock and
Tadjoura districts require immediate attention.

64.  A well-coordinated action by the local authorities and the active
participation of returnees, including demobilized soldiers, may secure
the financial and technical support needed to get the job done quickly
and effectively.  In this regard, a number of projects could be
initiated or reactivated in the following sectors:  basic urban
infrastructure maintenance, road construction and maintenance,
afforestation and reforestation, maintenance of water sources, wells
and so on.  This would also alleviate the critical unemployment
situation as it would allow greater access to economic opportunities. 
Food aid would be an incentive for the former soldiers and returnees
to participate in the rehabilitation activities.  The Government has
also expressed its preference to "cash and food-for-work" over free
food distribution.

65.  Such a rehabilitation programme will require an international
presence in the affected areas in order to provide the necessary
technical support and, more importantly, a sense of security and
confidence to the population.  In this context, UNDP could serve as
the coordinating body for a cross-mandate operation on behalf of all
United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Volunteers,
enlisting their active support in specific area- and community-based
rehabilitation and reconstruction schemes.  A phased-approach strategy
should be adopted in harmony with the return of the displaced
population and the pace of the demobilization process.  The current
UNDP-assisted rehabilitation programme should contribute to the
restoration of peace and stability and have a positive impact on the
living conditions of the population.

66.  In conjunction with the rehabilitation programme and as soon as
the majority of the displaced population have returned, reconstruction
projects with high labour intensity will be initiated, for both public
socio-economic infrastructure and private properties (housing, farms,
shops, etc.).

67.  These projects could be implemented by small private contractors,
with the strong participation of the communities.  Measures will have
to be taken to support the creation of micro-enterprises in all
branches of activities (commerce, agriculture, fisheries, services,
crafts), with an emphasis on the use of technology appropriate to the
local conditions and the use of credit and other financing mechanisms
(fonds de garantie).  Organizations of the United Nations system
present in Djibouti are constantly dealing with that problem by
developing activities related to repatriation, food distribution and
education, as well as by initiating regrouping efforts to resettle
refugees in camps, and by clean-up operations in the capital.

68.  The Secretary-General remains deeply committed to the
implementation of General Assembly resolution 50/58 F.  He calls upon
the international community to provide financial support to enable him
to provide assistance to meet urgent socio-economic programmes for the
reconstruction and development process in Djibouti.


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Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
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