US: US to attend CAR donors' conference

Washington, DC, US (PANA) - US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will lead the U.S. delegation to the Brussels Conference for Central African Republic (CAR), co-hosted by the European Union and the CAR government, that will take place in Brussels, Belgium, Thursday.

A statement by the US Department of State said Assistant Secretary Richard would be accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations David M. Robinson, U.S. Ambassador to CAR Jeffrey Hawkins, and Daphne Titus, US Agency for International Development (USAID) Senior Adviser for the Great Lakes Region. The delegation will attend the conference and other meetings with multilateral partners.

The conference focuses on the CAR’s move from crisis toward stability and development, including strengthening the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and repatriation process, security sector reform, the justice system, and economic recovery in CAR.

The statement said the CAR government would present its national strategy and priorities for the coming period. Partner countries will have the opportunity to offer their support and commitments during the conference.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) says that more than 850,000 people in CAR – half of them children – are still on the move, either internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries.

“When children return to their communities as security improves, they will need to have schools and clinics to come to,” Christine Muhigana, UNICEF’s Deputy Director for West and Central Africa, has said.

“Access to quality health and education is the cornerstone of any recovery, and the foundation for a peaceful future.”

According to UNICEF, at the meeting in Belgium’s capital, leaders from the CAR will make the case for a US$3 billion aid package to global donors, including the UN, the European Union and the World Bank.

It said efforts to reach every child in the CAR were limited by significant funding restrictions. Of the US$55.6 million required in 2016 to provide basic services to children in the country, only US$20.4 million has been received, leaving many projects under resourced and reduced in effectiveness.

UNICEF is calling on Central African leaders and global donors to put children first in the recovery plan by prioritising basic social services like health and education for the most vulnerable, noting that only a balanced recovery plan with equity as the guiding principle can lay the foundation for a peaceful future.

Meanwhile, a UN expert on the situation of human rights in CAR, Ms. Marie-Therese Keita, has said the justice system in CAR must be urgently strengthened if the country is to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation.

"Truth and reconciliation are also critical," Ms. Keita said in a statement ahead of a donors’ conference in Brussels on Thursday, aiming to raise funds in support of the country’s national peace-building plan.

"The policies set out in the National Plan for Recovery and Peace-Building represent the only way to ensure lasting peace in the conflict-wracked country, and they include plans to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate armed groups, repatriate people and reform the security sector," she said.

Success of the plan, drawn up by the CAR government in cooperation with the UN, the European Union and the World Bank, depends on financial pledges given by donors during the conference, according to Keita.

"The Brussels conference provides a unique opportunity for the international community to increase its support for the consolidation of peace and reconstruction in the Central African Republic. Without justice, there cannot be a durable reconciliation,” she said.

Clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian, plunged the country into civil conflict in 2013. Despite significant progress and successful elections, the CAR has remained in the grip of instability and sporadic unrest. More than 13,000 UN staff are currently based there as part of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the country, known as MINUSCA.
-0- PANA MA 17Nov2016

17 november 2016 05:41:07

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