Minister of State Kitt to address Liberia Reconstruction Conference in New York on behalf of EU
Tom Kitt T.D., Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights at the Department of Foreign Affairs, is taking part in the Liberia Reconstruction Conference today and tomorrow (5-6 February) in New York.
He will address the conference on behalf of the European Union and will outline the Union's contribution to the peace process in Liberia and the reconstruction efforts of the Government of Liberia and the international community. Other speakers at this major donor conference are expected to include United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Powell and the Chairman of the Transitional Government of Liberia, Gyude Bryant.
Minister of State Kitt is scheduled to hold separate meetings in New York with Chairman Bryant and with the UN Special Representative for Liberia, Jacques Klein. Discussions are expected to focus on progress in the implementation of the Liberian peace agreement as well as the humanitarian situation in the country.
Minister of State Kitt said that the inauguration of the National Transitional Government in Monrovia last October, which he attended as part of the EU delegation, was a tangible step in building a framework for Liberia to move forward politically, socially and economically.
“We now have a real opportunity to finally end the agony of Liberia and its people. This Conference, building on the progress made since the signing of the peace agreement in Accra last August, offers a genuine opportunity for this richly endowed and beautiful country to move beyond years of civil war, destruction and despair and to begin the process of renewal and reconstruction. It goes without saying that we must grasp the opportunity for peace and progress with both hands.”
During the conference Minister of State Kitt is also expected to announce a substantial package of Irish assistance for Liberia amounting to €5 million. This assistance comes on top of the €2.5 million provided by the Government in 2003 and will be channelled to urgent humanitarian and recovery operations.
Minister of State Kitt today said he was proud that Ireland is taking a lead role in the international response to the situation in Liberia. He said this was evident through our efforts as a member of the Core Group on Liberia which has been driving the Reconstruction Conference in New York, through Ireland's contribution of 430 Irish Defence Force personnel to the UN Mission to Liberia (UNMIL), as well as through our substantial bilateral humanitarian assistance.
On foot of the conference, Minister of State Kitt is planning an assessment mission to Liberia and Sierra Leone. He intends to visit ongoing Development Cooperation Ireland funded humanitarian operations in both countries. Minister of State Kitt will use the visit to assess how best Ireland can continue its development engagement with both countries in the context of greater peace and stability. He will also meet with the Irish contingent to UNMIL.
Note for Editors:
At the Reconstruction Conference on Liberia in New York the results of a UN/World Bank needs assessment are expected to estimate 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.