MINISTER EXPRESSES GRATITUDE TO ECOWAS FOR SUPPORTING LIBERIA WITH VOLUNTEERS
ABUJA, Nigeria, May 8, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The induction training of pioneer ECOWAS Volunteers for Liberia kicked off in Monrovia on Monday, 7th May 2012, with the Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Planning, Mr. Christopher Wallace, expressing immense gratitude to ECOWAS for assisting the country to end a civil war and accompanying it in capacity building to promote national development.
“ECOWAS came to our aid during the war and is now following Liberia on a new trajectory for national reconstruction, peace building, reconciliation and national development,” Mr. Wallace said while opening the ceremony on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Amara
Konneh, who has responsibility for ECOWAS Affairs in Liberia.
He also lauded the fact that the ECOWAS volunteers serving in Liberia are between the 18 and 35 age bracket, noting that this section of the populace was the most vulnerable during the country’s civil war.
Deputy Minister Wallace welcomed the 21 volunteers, who are from other ECOWAS Member States, and assured them that the Liberian Government would play its part to ensure that they enjoyed their stay in the country.
Speaking in the same vein, Mr. John Linga, Liberia’s Assistant Minister of Administration in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, who represented the Minister for Health, noted that national reconciliation “is not an event but a process.” He therefore urged
partners to support the ECOWAS initiative to ensure that the volunteers are remunerated adequately.
In his remarks on behalf of ECOWAS, the Chief Registrar of the Community Court of Justice, Mr. Tony Anene-Maidoh, explained that like any new initiative, the Volunteers Programme could face some teething challenges, adding however, that these could be overcome through determination and the strong commitment of all stakeholders.
He congratulated the volunteers and partners supporting the programme, including the African Development Bank, the European Union, the UN Volunteer Programme, UNESCO and UNHCR.
In his address to the ceremony, the UNDP Resident Representative to Liberia, Mr. Moustapha Soumare, commended ECOWAS “for the vision and resolve to create such a wonderful programme geared towards promoting peace and development in the region.”
Mr. Soumare represented by his deputy, Mr. Fernando Edjang, expressed the hope that while a host country stands to gain from the skills of the volunteers, the volunteers themselves going into different parts of the region would learn different cultures and the general idea behind the ECOWAS project.
ECOWAS volunteers in Liberia include specialists in education and curriculum development, as well as specialists in various health sectors, environmental health workers, and teachers in various fields.
The initiative complements existing programmes for peace building and national volunteer programmes, with the purpose of addressing the structural causes of vulnerability, instability or outbreaks of violence in the region.
The ECOWAS volunteers also contribute to promoting a culture of peace and gender equality in their host communities, establishing and supporting partnerships between communities, linking up communities with technical and financial support services and networking and collaborating with development partners.
The Volunteers Programme is designed to cover the 15 Member States in the long-term. Altogether, some 160 volunteers will be posted during the pilot phase in four countries –Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)