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Donors Pledge Funds to Congo


Following two day of talks international donors have promised to provide the Democratic Republic of Congo with $5.7 billion worth of aid to rebuild the war-torn country.

Talks between the international community and Congo's fragile transitional government ended late Friday in Kinshasa with donors pledging to provide the vast African country with $5.7 billion worth of aid over the next three to four years.

The World Bank says with donors having already invested over $1 billion in pledges this year, the pledges would cover nearly all of the country's needs, which are estimated to be just under $7 billion.

The government said it would supplement international assistance with a 10-percent contribution from its own coffers.

Following years of war and neglect, Congo is a run down state with little infrastructure or social services to speak of. Its government is struggling to lead the country's 58 million citizens to elections in June of next year, following the end of a five-year war that involved six neighboring countries and killed three million people, mostly from hunger and disease.

The funds will be spent on projects aimed at economic development, rebuilding state authority, organizing elections and integrating former foes within the army.

Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, Congo's planning minister, says his government was pleasantly surprised by the donor's commitment, saying that it proved the international community now has faith in his country.

The World Bank has estimated the per capita income in the country has dropped to about 27 cents a day. Three-point-five million people are still displaced and 80 percent of the population has no access to fresh water.

The Bretten Woods Institution says increased foreign investment, five-percent growth in 2003 and falling inflation suggested the country is on the road to recovery.

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