Sat, 25 Jan 2003

WB to train 300 Acehnese for community development

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To support the peace process in Aceh, the World Bank (WB) pledged on Friday to expand its community development program in the strife-torn province and provide training for the Acehnese.

World Bank Deputy Director for Asia Pacific Jemal-ud-din Kassum said the program would start as soon as possible.

"We are expanding the community development program into Aceh and 300 facilitators will be immediately trained for the program," Kassum said after meeting President Megawati Soekarnoputri on Friday.

"The CGI is also committed to fully funding the peace monitoring program," said Kassum, referring to the recently- concluded Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) meeting in Bali.

However, he did not elaborate on the amount of funds allocated for Aceh, which is part of the US$400 million grant pledged by CGI donor countries at the meeting.

Kassum met with President Megawati to report the results of the CGI meeting, which he chaired, in which donor countries agreed to give loans totaling US$2.7 billion to support Indonesia's economic recovery program.

WB also co-chaired the Dec. 3 meeting in Tokyo, during which donor countries agreed to set up a trust fund to rebuild warn- torn Aceh.

Kassum praised the commitment of the Indonesian government in upholding the cessation of hostilities agreement signed with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on Dec. 9 last year.

To follow up the agreement and ensure peace in the province, peace monitoring teams, consisting of 150 officials from the Indonesian government, GAM fighters, and representatives of the Henry Dunant Centre, a Switzerland-based non-governmental organization that brokered the peace agreement.

The Joint Security Committee (JSC) is in charge of overseeing the implementation of the peace pact.

"We will work very closely with the central government to determine the assistance needed for Aceh to support the peace process," Kassum said.

In the Tokyo meeting, 23 donor countries and agencies pledged to immediately support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Aceh as soon as peace and order was restored.

Kassum said the World Bank would implement the pledges quickly as economic development was one of the main factors that could help maintain peace in the province.

GAM has been fighting for independence in the country's westernmost province since 1976. More than 10,000 people, mostly innocent civilians have been killed since then.