Austrian Foreign Ministry and the UN jointly organise a seminar in Sierra Leone
Austria supports adolescents and women in West Africa
Vienna, 25 November 2010 – “It is really important to provide reasonable and positive perspectives to young people, in particular in post – conflict countries”, stated Ambassador Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl, Head of Austrian Development Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry. “If young people in unstable states stand no chance of getting jobs and employment, they are particularly prone to follow political extremists and sometimes endanger a young democracy.” At the beginning of december, Austria’s Foreign Ministry, together with the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), will therefore hold a two-day seminar in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which will be devoted to the discussion of positive examples of labour market initiatives in West Africa.
In many African countries, high unemployment and a lack of business opportunities hamper the development perspectives of the population. In post-conflict situations or young democracies the risk of a relapse into violent clashes is omnipresent. In such circumstances it is particularly difficult to create workplaces, as an economic infrastructure has to be established or restored on the one hand and many people are poorly trained or hardly qualified on the other. Initiated by Austria, the seminar will be attended by government representatives, entrepreneurs, representatives of civil society, foundations and development aid partners from such West African states as Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast and Liberia, in order to discuss strategies and programmes as well as learn from the experience gained thus far.
“During its membership in the UN Security Council, Austria has been committed to the protection of civilians and the empowerment of women. What is important to us is not only resolving the conflict situation itself, but also the opening up of opportunities for the civilian population”, stated Thomas Mayr-Harting, the Austrian Ambassador to the United Nations. “Together with the countries concerned, we will try to work out how framework conditions can be created for young people and women that allow them to lead their own self-determined life. This initiative is another highly practical result of our work in the Security Council.”
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