U.N. unit starts program to help Central African Republic communities

Feb. 26, 2014 at 4:22 PM
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BANGUI, Central African Republic, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A comprehensive program to promote peace-building and recovery across Central African Republic was launched Wednesday, the U.N. Development Program said.

The two-year initiative -- which would reach more than 350,000 conflict-affected people -- seeks to promote social cohesion, rebuild local infrastructure and create short-term employment opportunities in communities devastated by the ongoing violence, the U.N. agency said in a release.

"The program aims to help rebuild the social fabric in the Central African Republic, by reducing vulnerabilities in the social, economic and security spheres," said Kaarina Immonen, the U.N. Development Program resident representative in Bangui, where the initiative was launched.

"It will build a bridge between the dire humanitarian situation facing the country and efforts to build peace, community resilience and long-term development," Immonen said.

The $26 million plan will be rolled out in the districts in the central and western part of the country. The agency said it still needs about $22 million to ensure it fulfills all of the program objectives.

Among other things, the U.N. Development Program initiative will repair damaged infrastructure and health facilities through public works programs and provide vocational training to improve the work potential for marginalized groups such as women, youth and minorities.

More than half of the population of the Central African Republic -- about 2.5 million people -- is in need of humanitarian assistance, the United Nations said.

Violence and instability since 2012 have displaced more than 700,000 people inside the country and forced more than 288,000 to flee to Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.

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