Guinea-Bissau at a ‘turning point,’ says UN peacebuilding official

8 February 2008

The engagement of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) in Guinea-Bissau comes at a “turning point” for the West African nation that is trying to consolidate peace after a brutal civil war in which thousands were killed, wounded or forced from their homes.

Reporting on her recent two-day visit to the country, Maria Luiza R. Viotti – chair of the PBC’s country-specific configuration on Guinea-Bissau and Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN – said that improvements are necessary in several areas, including security, fiscal management, combating drug trafficking, youth vocational training and election assistance.

There is a “clear window of opportunity” for the Commission, an advisory body which seeks to assist countries emerging from conflict from sliding back to war, in Guinea-Bissau, she noted as she briefed PBC members in New York.

While in the country, Ms. Viotti met with Government authorities, civil society groups and representatives from the private sector and international organizations to determine the PBC’s next steps.

Last December, Guinea-Bissau became the third country on the Commission’s agenda, joining Burundi and Sierra Leone, after the Security Council backed a request from the country, which has been beset by problems stemming from drug trafficking and organized crime.

 

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