Monrovia — The European Union has announced a funding package estimated at 250M t 275M euros for development purposes in within the next few years.
The EU made the disclosure Thursday, September 19, 2013 at a news conference marking the close of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) Department in Liberia. Since 1992, Liberia has benefited several millions euros from the ECHO program of the European Union.
Speaking at the news conference, the Operations Director of East, West and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean of the EU ECHO Program, Mr. Cees Wittebrood pointed out that the humanitarian relief of the union has been replaced with development cooperation in Liberia.
He said the closure of the ECHO program of the EU in Liberia comes in the wake of ten years of comprehensive peace, which according to him, "marks the end of emergency" in the country.
He stated that the office of humanitarian assistance of the EU has been very "supportive" to humanity in Liberia since 1992. Since that time, the EU official disclosed that the ECHO department of the union has provided 180M Euros (US$240M) as humanitarian aid to assist vulnerable people, most of whom were Internally Displaced and refugees in Liberia.
He said ECHO has also provided assistance to the health sector, food security and tracing, water and sanitation as well as the protection of vulnerable groups and the reintegration and repatriation of displaced people in the Liberian society.
He stated that the emergency situation of Liberia is over and therefore, it is now time for the EU to move towards the future by investing in the development of the country.
"We are here to mark the closing down of the EU ECHO for humanitarian aid. It was responsible for humanity in the system during emergency in Liberia. This year, Liberia celebrates ten years of comprehensive peace but we are celebrating 20 years of ECHO. This office of humanity assistance has been supportive to Liberia right from the start of its creation in 1992. We have provided humanitarian assistance throughout the civil war and even afterward in 2003," he stated.
The EU official furthered: "The time has come to reconsider our presence in Liberia and to recognize that there is no longer EU humanity office. We now like to look to the future; we have to look to development and again, be happy and congratulate ourselves that the humanitarian aid is over.
You all know how serious the situation has been throughout the civil war. So, we have taken the commitment to provide assistance in so many sectors because the needs those days were very huge. The relief is over, but the part of development has started and will continue."
Speaking further, Mr. Wittebrood pointed out that the EU has been very professional in ensuring financial accountability in its humanitarian aid provided to vulnerable groups in Liberia. He said "programs have been designed intelligently" by the EU to address humanity adding that, the "EU does not work in isolation."
Also speaking, the EU Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Attilio Pacifici, reaffirmed the EU's commitment to the recovery process of Liberia.
He said important steps have to be taken to make people feel that the future would be brighter than the ten years of peace in Liberia. He stated that sustainable peace in the country would lead to prosperity in Liberia.
According to him, the EU would "continue to do its best in addressing the developmental needs of the country."
He added that the EU will work with relevant institutions as well as the Government of Liberia in several areas to help bring sustainable development into the nation.