Donors pledge $500m Liberia aid

From: Susannah Price © BBC News (UK Edition)

The international community has pledged more than $500m to help reconstruct Liberia after 14 years of civil war.

United Nations officials said it was clear there was no donor fatigue but it was crucial the money came quickly. The conference - hosted by the UN, United States and the World Bank - had sought $480m to rebuild infrastructure and rehabilitate fighters.
Liberia's interim leader, Gyude Bryant, said the conference marked a new beginning for Liberians.

'No complacency'

For the past two days Liberia has been in the spotlight at the United Nations.
The plight of the Liberians was often ignored during the long civil war but last year's peace agreement put them back on the international agenda. And now they can expect more than $500m to help with reconstruction.
The head of the United Nations Development Programme, Mark Malloch-Brown, congratulated the delegates, who represented nearly 100 governments.
"You've done it! You've gone over the 500 million mark and I think that's a real tribute to the commitment to Liberia. I think, as you've also heard, no time for complacency. We've got to make sure that the money now flows."

"Security fears"

There is relative stability in Liberia at the moment. Some 10,000 UN peacekeepers are there, although aid agencies say that looting, rapes and abductions still occur in areas where they have not yet been deployed.
The most immediate concern remains security, which could deteriorate rapidly unless tens of thousands of fighters are disarmed soon.
And there are fears that any violence could spill over into neighbouring countries. The money is also desperately needed to rebuild health and education facilities, communications and transport.
Liberia's interim leader, Gyude Bryant, expressed delight at the international community's reaction. "The Liberian people will be grateful. Our children will be grateful and our children yet unborn will call you 'blessed'."
All the speakers emphasised the need for urgent action to ensure the violence did not restart.
The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, warned that what he called "this promising moment" was not likely to come again.

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  • Saturday 7th February 2004

    uploaded by: Robert W. Kranz  2005