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Sierra Leone: donors support recovery strategy in diamond-rich district

Sierra Leone: donors support recovery strategy in diamond-rich district

A donors' round-table meeting in Sierra Leone has expressed its commitment to support humanitarian and economic needs as well as the restoration of civil authority in the country's diamond-rich district of Kono, the United Nations Mission there (UNAMSIL) announced today.

Delegates at the meeting, held yesterday in Freetown, discussed the report commissioned by the National Recovery Committee to assess the district's needs. The report was prepared following a mission to the district from 25 to 27 September, led by the Sierra Leonean authorities and assisted by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and UN agencies, as well as UNAMSIL.

Addressing the meeting, the top official from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Alan Doss, said the UN agency would provide small grants as start-up funds for District Recovery Committees to ensure their effectiveness, and that additional funds would be channelled toward providing capacity support to returning government officials. He also said UNAMSIL's civilian police would set up committees in Kono to assist the Sierra Leone Police in carrying out their work, while its Civil Affairs staff would help restore the district's administration.

In his keynote address, Sierra Leonean Vice President Albert Joe Demby, who also chairs the National Recovery Committee, noted the importance of Kono District, and pointed out that its recovery was an important step in the country's overall economic recovery. The Minister of Agriculture, Okere Adams, reminded the delegates that Kono was not only endowed with diamonds, but also with rich agricultural land.

At the meeting, pledges of support were received from Britain for helping to restore the paramount chiefs in the district and provide shelter for returnees. The European Union said it would support the rehabilitation of roads and resettlement plans in agriculture, education and health, explaining that debt relief over the next three years had freed up a considerable amount of revenue for additional government expenditure.