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France grants 5.1 million euros to support education, security

France has granted Burundi 5.1 million euros (US $6.1 million) for education projects and to strengthen security, a French official said in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, at the end of a two-day visit to the country. France, through the UN World Food Programme, would also give another 500,000 euros ($600,180) as its contribution to an emergency food operation, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Sunday at a news conference. "Burundi is one of the unusual countries, which have smoothly conducted its [political] transitional process," he said. He added the country should serve as a good example in Africa's Great Lakes region as well as a model to other conflict-stricken countries. "We are waiting for a formal note of the release of the 500,000 euros contribution from the French embassy in Bujumbura, in a bid to know the allocation of the emergency food aid," Guillaume Foliot, a WFP programme officer, told IRIN on Tuesday. For the education sector, Douste-Blazy said 2.1 million euros ($2.5 million) would be disbursed for primary and secondary school teacher training. Another one million euros ($1.2 million) would be used to build permanent schools nationwide. Under its security support provision, he said two million euros ($2.4 million) would be disbursed to buy army and police equipment and provide training of personnel. Douste-Blazy, accompanied by the deputy executive director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Rima Salah, also visited the Maison Shalom; a home in the eastern province of Ruyigi for some 10,000 orphans and demobilised child soldiers who fought with armed groups during the country's 12-year civil war. These children are grouped in five sites where they receive vocational training. On her part, Salah promised UNICEF's support to the Burundian government in its provision of free primary education by making available books and uniforms to at least one million children, as well as providing teaching aids. "We took the decision to back the education sector after the education minister had said the government was so far able to supply the education requirements for 1.3 million out of the 2.3 million children," Salah said. UNICEF would also contribute to the creation of a better learning environment in schools by providing water and building lavatories. "Our policy is also to call on the government to include, in the school syllabus, subjects on the sensitisation of the fight against HIV/AIDS," Barbara Jamar, UNICEF's assistant communication officer, said. "The UNICEF sensitisation is also designed to allow the Burundian girl child to continue her studies instead of dropping out at Primary three," she added.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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