UN REPORTS SLOW PROGRESS IN LIBERIA RECONSTRUCTION

AFR/984-IHA/921
2 July 2004

UN REPORTS SLOW PROGRESS IN LIBERIA RECONSTRUCTION

02/07/2004
Press Release
AFR/984
IHA/921


UN REPORTS SLOW PROGRESS IN LIBERIA RECONSTRUCTION


NEW YORK, 2 July (OCHA) -- Slow progress in Liberia’s reconstruction is due to the failure of donors to contribute the $540 million they pledged at a donors’ conference in New York in February 2004, according to the United Nations.


Thousands of Liberians, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, still have limited access to humanitarian assistance and basic services, including health, education, water, communication and electricity.


Unless more pledges and resources are received, a food pipeline break will result in a shortfall of 14,432 metric tonnes of cereals, 2,218 of pulses, 1,470 of vegetable oil, 405 of salt, 2,073 of corn soya blend, and 24 of sugar, from August to December 2004.


The World Food Programme (WFP) recently extended general food distribution to 80,372 beneficiaries, including 71,271 IDPs, 9,090 refugees and 11 returnees.  However, because of its attempts to target food rations in IDP camps more accurately, some IDP camp residents have organized themselves to actively disrupt those distributions.  Unrest and agitation are expected to rise if the food ration is further reduced due to the pipeline problems.


However, a trust fund for Liberia’s disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration programme recently grew, with a new contribution from Sweden.  The programme was thus able to approve two more projects, which are meant to provide “in-centre” and “on-the-job” training for 771 children associated with fighting forces, as well as training and job placement for 1,324 ex-combatants.


Also, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched two rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for some 1,200 ex-combatants.  Over the next eight months, the ex-combatants will be trained in such skills as carpentry, masonry, electricity, tailoring and agriculture.


Of Liberia’s demobilized combatants, 54 per cent have expressed interest in vocational training and 39 per cent in formal education.  The fact that only 2 per cent have expressed interest in agriculture is worrisome, since it could adversely impact the country’s future food production capabilities and frustrate ex-combatants when they compete for limited non-agricultural jobs.


For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA New York, tel: 917 367 5126, mobile: 917 892 1679; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA Geneva, tel: 41 22 917 2653, mobile: 41(0) 79 473 4570.


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For information media. Not an official record.