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Liberia voices disadvantage at UN, ECOWAS

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Liberia’s Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Mr. Andy Quamie has voiced out the disadvantage the country faces at the United Nations and ECOWAS Volunteering Programs during a meeting in Monrovia that focuses on youth volunteering and development.

“I was discussing … a few minutes ago that Liberia is at disadvantage in the UN Volunteering and maybe ECOWAS Volunteering,” Mr. Quamie said Tuesday, 26 February at the Royal Grand Hotel.

His observation comes at a meeting of representatives from the ECOWAS Commission, United Nations Volunteers Program (UNV) and the United Nations Office for South – South Cooperation (UNOSSC) that discusses ways of strengthening an existing partnership among these three institutions.

The ECOWAS Volunteers Program (EVP) was initiated by the ECOWAS Commission on 5 November 2004, following which a partnership was signed with the UNV in 2005.

The two – day meeting in Monrovia is the first between the ECOWAS Commission and the UNV since the partnership was signed in 2005 under the EVP.
At the meeting, Quamie expresses hope that these discussions will continue to come to Liberia to enable the country to take advantage of them.

In his inquiry regarding what can be done better for Liberia to be considered around the world to volunteer, Mr. Quamie says he is told that it depends on the country’s case, adding that a country has to pay for its national volunteers that could lead to their selections if it is shown that they are volunteers.

Mr. Quamie assures that efforts will be made in negotiating with government to ensure that responsibility is taken to pay for Liberian volunteers to do some national volunteering with the UN or ECOWAS offices here.

“We will see how we can also negotiate with the government to take some responsibilities to pay for their volunteers to do some national volunteering with the UN office here, maybe with the ECOWAS offices and other volunteering in Liberia,” Mr. Quamie announces.

Presenting Liberia’s case at the meeting, Mr. Quamie laments that “we” have serious issue with “risk youth,” referring to young folks here called Zogoes.

He expresses fear that if these young people are just taken directly to a vocational school or youth development program without including recreation program, things might not go well.

Earlier, ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Mr. Mamadou Traore says a Memorandum of Understanding and a cost – sharing agreement was signed between the UNV and ECOWAS Commission in 2005.

But he says it has not been recommissioned to effectively establish the EVP with technical support and funding from the UNV and the African Development Bank.

However Mr. Traore expresses hope that the retreat in Monrovia will not only provide framework, but also come up with new ideas … and mutually beneficial cooperation among the UNV, ECOWAS Commission and UNOSSC.

Mr. Traore hopes that the retreat will provide the ground for heightening collaboration and development of new templates for a three – party South – South arrangement among UNV, ECOWAS Commission and the UNOSSC in the areas of youth migration, youth entrepreneurship, education, scholarship, gender development and volunteerism, among others.

For his part, Mr. Benedict D. Roberts, head of ECOWAS National Office and Chair of the ECOWAS Coordinating Council of EVP Liberia says the single most important instrument – the Memorandum of Understanding – that binds them together and determines the roles individuals play will also be a subject of discussion at the meeting.

Mr. Roberts encourages all participants to contribute to make their gathering at the Royal Grand Hotel a fulfilling one.
By Winston W. Parley

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