Over 33,600 Ex-combatants Disarmed To UN Peacekeepers In Liberia

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 25, 2004

Despite the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL’s failure to extend its authority across the 15 political sub-divisions of Liberia, a West African nation devastated by 14-year of bloody war, the high command of the UN mission has revealed that it has so far disarmed over 33,600 ex-combatants.

The high command of the UN Mission in Liberia made the disclosure on 24 May on the UN sponsored and run electronic media outlet-UNMIL radio on one of it talks shows, “Coffee Break”. On this 30-minute program, relevant individuals make various reports covering the mission daily activities to the public.

According to the report, the 33,600 are ex-combatants who submitted to the on-going disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) program during the last 39 days of the exercise, which is key to listing peace to Liberia

But the UN Mission did not give the statistical outlook of the number of ex-combatants who have so far discharged their arms and weapons from each of the belligerent groups including the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) and the former Government of Liberia (GOL).

The UN Mission, however, said during the 39 days of DDRR program, 16,000 ex-combatants have successfully gone through the demobilization exercise while others are awaiting to undergo similar program. The mission also indicated that 19,000 ex-combatants so far have been disarmed since the resumption of the second phase of the DDRR program.

The UN mission, however, felt short to reveal the total number of arms and weapons received during the 39 days of the DDRR exercise. Besides, the mission did not give any statistics of the percent of child-soldiers, female fighters and male fighters disarmed.

It is yet to be established as to which of the belligerent group has the highest number of ex-combatants that discharged their arms and weapons to UNMIL, although unconfirmed report graded the former Government of Liberia (GOL), which forces first started to disarm to UNMIL.

But the former President of Liberia, Moses Z. Blah, one time told journalists in Monrovia that the former GOL has about 30,000 ex-combatants while the high commands of LURD and MODEL are yet to give the actual strength of the fighting forces. It is believed that the former GOL the largest ex-fighters force followed by LURD and MODEL.