Minister of State Kitt announces $200 million in European Community assistance for Liberia
In his address to the Liberia Reconstruction Conference in New York on 6 February, Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Tom Kitt T.D., pledged the EU's continued support for the Liberia peace process and for efforts to rebuild the country.
Minister of State Kitt outlined European Community assistance for Liberia - the European Community alone will provide an overall amount of $200 million through the European Development Fund and humanitarian funds to contribute to the transition process and emergency relief over the coming two years. This assistance is in addition to bilateral assistance pledged by EU member states at the conference. Ireland pledged assistance of €5 million.
On behalf of the EU he praised the Joint Needs Assessment report for Liberia presented by the Transitional Government, the UN and the World Bank. The needs assessment estimates the total financial requirements for reconstruction in Liberia over the next two years at $487 million. This figure is in addition to the humanitarian needs amounting to $179 million.
Minister of State Kitt welcomed the establishment of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and stressed that no progress could be made in Liberia without the timely implementation of UNMIL's mandate. He said that people will not return to their homes and livelihoods, nor farmers to their fields, until they can do so in conditions of peace and safety. The Minister urged the international community to set realistic targets for Liberia adding that the challenges facing the country are enormous.
The Minister said, “The peace process remains fragile and the economy has collapsed. Whilst recent experience of post-conflict situations has been mixed, our understanding of the elements required for post conflict development is improving. The two most critical lessons seem to be that the process has to be 'owned' by the population concerned and that high levels of international engagement need to be sustained for many years”.
The Minister added, “I know from my own experience in Northern Ireland how difficult it is to achieve lasting peace where deep divisions and suspicions exist. What is required is motivation and support rather than prescription”.