New EU fund for rebuilding the Central African Republic

The EU is to establish a new fund for the 1st phase of reconstruction in the Central African Republic. This decision was made today at a meeting of European development ministers in Florence.

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen sees the creation of the fund as a significant move. 'The country is in the throes of a serious political and humanitarian crisis,' she said. 'To end it, we need to offer the population fresh prospects, in addition to the emergency aid we provide. Where possible, education and health care facilities must be re-established and steps taken towards reconciliation.' The Netherlands already helps fund a radio programme that promotes reconciliation between different communities.

The poverty-stricken population of the Central African Republic has been suffering from bad governance for many years, and the country has also been ravaged by violence since the end of last year. Troops from the African Union and EU have restored a degree of calm to the capital, Bangui. However, murder and plunder are continuing in many other parts of the country. Over half the population are dependent on foreign aid.

The new fund is called 'Bêkou', which means 'hope' in the local language. The initial size of the fund will be € 64 million, with the Netherlands contributing € 3 million. This EU fund will be the first of its kind. Pooling money from the EU and various member states will allow it to be disbursed more quickly and flexibly. Like many other EU member states, the Netherlands does not have an embassy in Bangui. 'This fund provides a reliable way for the Netherlands to give urgent aid to the people of the Central African Republic,' said Ms Ploumen.