12 June 2009The head of the United Nations agency tasked with connecting developing countries to the knowledge, experience and resources to build a stronger nation travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today on the latest leg of her African tour. Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), is in Kinshasa, where she will meet with Government and local leaders. She will also visit UNDP projects in the capital as well as in the east of the vast country.Yesterday, Miss Clark was in Liberia, where she met with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and paid tribute to the progress the West African country has made under her three-year presidency after decades of violent conflict.In discussions with Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf, Miss Clark pointed to the threat posed by the current global economic recession on Liberia’s fragile peace-building process, reaffirming UNDP’s commitment to the country.Later in the day, she attended a town hall meeting with key government ministers and local leaders in Kakata, western Liberia, where she launched the Youth for Volunteer programme, to train ‘Youth Peace Ambassadors.’ This programme aims to identify and resolve potential violent conflicts in communities.UNDP has been a key partner to the Government of Liberia in its post-civil war recovery and rebuilding process, establishing 15 Truth and Reconciliation Commission offices, training people to staff them and assisting 500 women who testified before the Commission. Through the Peacebuilding Fund, the agency and its partners relocated and trained as farmers some 800 ex-combatants, who had been working in illegal mining and logging in farming techniques, helped repair roads, clinics, schools, markets, wells, latrines and bridges, directly improving the lives of an estimated 400,000 people.In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Moustapha Soumaré of Mali as his Deputy Special Representative for Recovery and Governance at the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).Mr. Soumaré will also serve as the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator to Liberia, replacing Jordan Ryan, who now serves as UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.The next stop on Miss Clark’s inaugural visit to Africa will be Ethiopia.
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