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By Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
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ABUJA, Nigeria, April 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- An ECOWAS delegation and officials of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UNESCO have ended a three-day meeting in Dakar, Senegal for the review of the regional Support to ECOWAS for Peace and Development Project (PADEP), funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The 15 million US-dollar PADEP Project launched in 2006 and being coordinated by the ECOWAS Peace Fund (EPF), covers refugee support, resettlement and rehabilitation programmes in four ECOWAS countries, with the UNHCR as the implementing partner.

It also involves the development of a Manual of reference on the Culture of Peace, Citizenship and Human Rights, in partnership with UNESCO as well as the ECOWAS Volunteers Programme being implemented with the support of the UN Volunteer programme.

At the meeting in Dakar on 3rd April 2013 with UNHCR officials, the EPF Manager Mr.DieudonneNikiema, explained that at the request of the ECOWAS Commission the AfDB has extended the PADEP implementation period by six months until 30th June 2013.

This is to enable the partners to complete the outstanding project activities and work out an exit strategy.

The extension is also to allow for the preparation of an impact assessment, and through effective visibility, ensure ownership and sustainability of the PADEP project, designed to promote peace, stability and regional integration.

To this end, Mr.Nikiema said that a Television documentary would also be produced to highlight the PADEP project achievements.

The UNHCR Deputy Regional Representative (Protection) commended the quality of partnership with ECOWAS and the achievements of the PADEP project, which has supported thousands of refugees in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Guinea Bissau.

He said that the lessons learnt from the partnership project would not only engender ownership and sustainability, but would also lead to better outcomes from future collaboration. Also present at the meeting, was the UNHCR Assistant Representative (Programme) Mr. Jean-Claude de Rego.

At a separate meeting with UNESCO officials, Mr.Nikiema underscored the need to publicise the seven-module Culture of Peace Reference Manual by incorporating it into the curricula of primary and secondary schools in the region.

Mr. Yao Ydo, Head of section, Education for Peace, Sustainable Development, HIV/AIDS and Contemporary Issues at UNESCO Africa Regional Bureau (BREDA), explained that the Manual would also be publicised through UNESCO's non-formal education platforms targeting youths and adults outside the conventional school system.

Community Radio and popular artists would also be used to ensure a wider outreach, he added.

Expressing the same sentiment, the UNESCO/BREDA Communication and Knowledge Management Specialist, Mrs. Anne Muller underlined the importance of social media, including Facebook, Mobile phone applications and a dedicated website for the propagation of the Manual, especially targeting young people.

The ECOWAS delegation to the Dakar meetings included Mr. Paul Ejime of the Communication Directorate as well as Mr. Wilfred Ewaleifoh, who represented the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), which is collaborating with ECOWAS on the PADEP documentary production.