Brussels to host conference on conflicts in Africa

Brussels- Belgium (PANA) -- A two-day international conference opens in Brussels Monday to draw up international co-operation instruments for African countries affected by crises or violent armed conflicts.
According to a statement issued in Brussels Friday, the conference convened at Belgium's initiative would be chaired by the Belgian junior co-operation minister, Eddy Boutmans.
The objective of the meeting would be to formulate recommendations to be submitted before a meeting of the European Union Council of development ministers on 9 November in Brussels.
The gathering will seek to establish a coherent European Union co-operation policy towards African countries faced with political crises or armed conflicts.
According to the meeting's organisers, debates would be based on case studies from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia and Guinea Bissau.
The document noted European Union countries currently have different co-operation approaches towards countries affected by serious conflicts.
It said that this creates a dilemma for donor countries and organisations to either collaborate or maintain a critical outlook.
The document stressed the need to clearly distinguish between technical assistance and political support.
As an example, certain donors provide aid to Sudan although they disapprove its policies.
The same applies to Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, which have denied aid by European countries although they maintain pressure on the European Commission to be accorded assistance from the European Development Fund.
Thus, the DRC will get 120 million Euros (1 Euro = 0.
91 US cents) which are remnants from the 7th and 8th EDF.
The report said also that it extremely important to establish an adapted programme in these countries where the needs are not only very unequal from one sector to another but can also change rapidly.
The utilisation of a long or middle term programme risks to undermine the relevance of any intervention, it added.
Although planning and programming is necessary, they are practically impossible.
The same report stressed that integrated regional strategies are necessary in comprehending the causes and regional consequences of most conflicts, including the flow of refugees to arms trafficking.
It has been observed that a majority of donors have specific intervention programmes for each country and not a regional programme.
Consequently, regional development projects remain at conceptual levels and are never implemented.
In its conclusion, the report envisages a multi-dimensional policy framework to avert the imposition of unilateral sanctions and to promote constructive engagement with the government and non-governmental actors.
On the other hand, it will be necessary to prepare a regional strategy under which the specific situation in a a given country would be placed in a larger context.
The report also envisages the launching of global policy dialogue and the adoption of a strategy per country at various levels according to specific needs within different regions of a given country.
The document recommends the enhancement of links between the European Union's external policy and joint security and its development policies.
In this regard, Belgium is suggesting that the 10 million Euros allocated to external policy and joint security be transferred to disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and resettlement programmes or armed groups in the Great Lakes Region.
Besides Eddy Boutmans, the two-day meeting will also be attended by other prominent personalities, including the former Malian President, Amadou Toumani Toure and he assistant UN secretary general, Ibrahima Fall.

29 september 2001 13:35:00

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