Hundreds of Fighters Disarmed in Gbarnga, DDRR Moves to Buchanan Today

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 20, 2004

Hundreds of former combatants of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel group have been handing in their arms and weapons to the on-going Disarmament, demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) process currently taking place in the Central city of Gbarnga, Bong County.

Although the total number of LURD fighters disarmed since the resumption of the DDRR program on 15th April is not known, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) run radio station has put the figure to about 1250 ex-combatants.

The UNMIL run radio described the DDRR exercise in Gbarnga as fruitful and unique, indicating that several combatants on a daily basis are submitting to the exercise but said only 250 are accepted daily for the DDRR. This, the station said is in line with the DDRR regulations and plane of action.

Up to present, there has been no report of any incident at the DDRR sites in Gbarnga. Reports emerging from the sites show how the LURD fighters are in high gear for the process, while civilians have been jubilating in Gbarnga and its surroundings. The reports also indicate that combatants were turning in their arms to UNMIL in a joyous mood as other fighters await the DDRR program.

Recently, the Executive Director of the National Commission on DDRR, Dr. Moses Jebboe told local and international journalists in Gbarnga that about 2000 combatants were expected to be disarmed, but it now appears that more than that 2000 fighters are to be disarmed.

According to reports, the first batch of 250 ex-combatants that submitted to the process on the first day of the resumption of the DDRR came from the “Jungle Warrior” Division. The report said some of the fighters who UNMIL could not accept on the first day of the process begged that they form part of the DDRR on that occasion but they were told to return to the disarmament sites the following day.

The United Nations Secretary General Special Representative in Liberia, ambassador Jacques Paul Klein, speaking on UNMIL radio recently said the DDRR program would take about six months to complete the process, adding that UNMIL wants to carry on the process with dignity.

According to him, UNMIL does not know the exact number of fighters and their locations but said in order to make the DDRR program a successful one, UNMIL has brought into the country experts from Angola , Sierra Leone and Mozambique to help with the DDRR process.

He said the ex-fighters would stay at the cantonment for seven (7) days before they can be reintegrated into their various communities. Earlier, the reintegration process was to take three weeks (21) days, but Ambassador Klein is yet to explain why number of days before the reintegration process has been reduced from 21 to 7.

Meanwhile, the DDRR exercise moves to the nation’s second largest city of Buchanan today to disarm fighters of the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) rebel group. While many persons doubt that MODEL fighters will follow the example of LURD, some believe that large number of MODEL fighters will be disarmed.