10 million dollars needed for Liberian ex-combatants: UNMIL

LAGOS, Jun 11, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Liberia still needs 10 million US dollars to help thousands of ex-combatants in the tiny west African country back into civilian life, according to officials of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

Around 43,000 former Liberian fighters who have been disarmed are still waiting for funds to go back to school or begin vocational training almost two years after the end of Liberia's 14- year civil war, reports reaching here Saturday quoted Abou Moussa, the acting head of the UNMIL as saying.

The United States recently stumped up 15 million dollars while Sweden handed over 3.6 million dollars to help reintegrate ex- combatants, UN officials said. The European Commission, meanwhile, pledged 7 million euros (about 8.5 million dollars).

"(This) has helped us reduce the funding shortfall ... but we still need about 10 million dollars," Moussa told reporters in Monrovia, Liberia's capital, calling on the international community to provide more aid to Liberia.

"We are confident that other donors will follow through and help us breach this critical gap," he said.

Liberia is struggling to recover from the civil war that ended in August 2003, and with presidential elections just four months away, international experts are worried about ex-combatants kicking their heels on the streets, creating a ready-made recruiting pool for anyone wanting to disrupt the democratic process.