Liberia + 2 more

EU earmarks funds for Liberian, Congolese refugees to return home

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BRUSSELS, Jul 19, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) - The European Commission (EC) announced here on Tuesday that it decided to offer new funds to support the return of more than 400,000 refugees and displaced persons to their places of origin in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The executive of the European Union (EU) has decided to allocate 4.7 million euros (about 5.6 million US dollars) towards facilitating the repatriation and resettlement of these populations.

The grants are to be channeled through ECHO, the EC's humanitarian aid service.

Violent offensives by rebel groups in Liberia resulted in more than 170,000 Liberians being displaced inside their country, and a further 200,000 nationals fleeing to neighboring countries, according to the EC.

Fighting between the government forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and rebel forces drove some 60,000 Congolese to seek shelter in the Republic of the Congo.

Since 2003, the EC has donated 45 million euros (around 54 million US dollars) in humanitarian aid activities to Liberia, and 128 million euros (around 153.6 million US dollars) towards the Congo crisis.