Disarmament of 60,000 Combatants in Liberia Re-Starts Mid April, Says Jacques Klein

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

March 31, 2004

The Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) which is essential for lasting peace, stability and prosperity to war torn Liberia, is set to resume Mid April, the United Nations Secretary General Special Representative in Liberia, ambassador Jacques Paul Klein, disclosed recently.

Ambassador Klein, head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), told journalists in the Provisional city of Kakata, 45-mile east of Monrovia, that the disarmament exercises will this time resume in three weeks, meaning Mid April.

According to ambassador Klein, substantial steps have been taken to achieve the Mission objectives to make Liberia arms free and to restore the nation to its pre-war status. Some, however, doubt that the DDRR will this time resume as scheduled.

Liberia has witnessed 14- year of devastating and bloody civil war, claming over 250 persons lives, destroying millions of dollars worth of properties and sending one million people into displaced camps around the country, and about 800,000 into refugee camps in the sub region.

Speaking further, Ambassador Klein revealed that cantonment sites are now being built, while others have been completed, awaiting the resumption of the DDRR exercises. Presently, UNMIL has over 13,000 forces in the country, backed by heavy war tanks and heavy weapons, while all factions have promised to disarm.

Recently, a meeting of the National commission on DDRR took place in Monrovia, under the watchful eyes of chairman Gyude Bryant and ambassador Klein.

In a related development, the U.S. Government has announced the provision of US$50 million for the rehabilitation of ex-combatants and development of communities in Liberia.

The assistance, the U.S. ambassador said, constitutes the US Government's community revitalization program, saying that the amount is his government’s assistance towards the ex-combatants from all of Liberia’s former warring parties.

Accordingly, US$28 million of the total US$50 million will be used towards community infrastructure program, and added that the U.S. Government through its contractor, Development Alternative Incorporated, will offer training and job opportunities to thousands of Liberians.