Accra, Dec. 2, GNA - More than 200 United Nations personnel, working in neighbouring strife-torn La Cote d' Ivoire have relocated in Ghana, following last month's clashes between French peacekeepers and supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo.
The personnel working mainly for peace and development, composed of about 70 personnel of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme, who were among the hundreds of foreigners that fled the country, following the killing of nine French soldiers when the Ivorian army attacked rebel positions, breaking the 18-month ceasefire agreement between the belligerent factions.
Mr Joseph Oji, the UNV Programme Officer in Ghana used the 19th International Volunteer Day (IVD) celebration to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of the volunteers towards the reconstruction of the war-torn West African state.
"IVD avails all men and women of goodwill, the opportunity to facilitate, network, promote and enhance recognition for volunteerism in all its ramifications."
Mr Oji said the Day provided volunteers the opportunity to help reverse the abject poverty afflicting more than one billion people globally and providing access to the millions of People Living with HIV/AIDS to life saving drugs.
"The immediate challenge facing mankind is access to food, clean water, sanitation, basic education and health services to growing populations.
"The International Volunteer Day provides us an opportunity, irrespective of our age, race, gender, culture and professional background to renew the voluntary spirit, which is inborn in all of us," Mr Oji said.
The IVD organised by the UNV and the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, on the theme: "Youth Volunteering for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)", attracted members of the Diplomatic Corps, the security agencies, local and foreign volunteer groups, with an exhibition of the activities of volunteers as sidelight.
The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, said in a speech read on his behalf that volunteerism had recorded significant social and economic contributions in a number of countries and made societies more cohesive, by building trust and solidarity among citizens. "As the UN Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan so aptly puts it, if our hopes of building a better and safer world for all to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever."
Mr Adjetey tasked the 11 million youth in Ghana to help eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in the country, by promoting income-generating activities such as the work of online volunteers to market handicrafts produced by unemployed artisans.
They can also encourage and mobilise local associations and cooperatives on production methods, natural resources management and disease control.
The Speaker said: " The youth have a significant role to play in nation building. Their energy, intelligence, enormous reservoir of skills, ingenuity, creativity, adventure, solidarity and local knowledge hold invaluable potential for societal harmony and development." Mr Alfred Sallia Fawundu, United Nations Development Programme, Country Representative, lauded Ghana for its global commitment to volunteerism.
He said as part of the IVD celebrations in Ghana, free medical care would be organised for the James Town community in Accra on Saturday, December 4.
Mr Fawundu read the messages of the UN Secretary General and the Executive Coordinator of the UNV on the Day that acclaimed the efforts of volunteerism to achieve the MDGs that includes the elimination of poverty, disease and illiteracy.
Miss Joyce Rosaline Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Mines and Lt. General Emmanuel Alexander Eskine, Member of the National Reconciliation Commission, who co-chaired the function, paid tribute to volunteers working in Ghana and abroad for their selfless commitment to duty.