Sierra Leone

Donors pledge $158 million to peace-building in Sierra Leone

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Reaffirming its "continuing and strong political support" for the peace process in Sierra Leone, the international community has pledged substantial funds at a donor conference in London towards disarmament and reconstruction in the war-ravaged West African country.
A concluding statement released today from the meeting's chair said that the implementation of the July 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement was a precondition for sustainable development and that, as such, the current peace-building process in Sierra Leone was "a test case for us all."

"We condemned those rebel groups that have so far hindered the peace process, and reminded all concerned that the peace agreement does not provide amnesty for atrocities and other criminal acts committed after the signing of the peace agreement," the statement said.

During the one-day meeting, participants discussed the funding requirement of disarmament programmes and agreed that there was a need to accelerate the process by shortening the length of stay of ex-combatants in demobilization camps and strengthening district-level reintegration. To accomplish this, the rate of contributions to disarmament projects would also have to be "accelerated," the participants agreed.

"As security improves, a number of development programmes and projects currently on hold would be resuscitated," the statement said, noting that the international community should "do more" to achieve a better coordination of programmes.

According to a spokesman in New York, more than $158 million was pledged at the conference - from Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the African Development Bank and the European Commission.