UN Peace Keepers Release Statistics On The Disarmament Exercises In Liberia


By Josephus Moses Gray

Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

September 10, 2004

Authorities of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL released the latest statistics of the on-going disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration or DDRR exercises across Liberia, a West African nation devastated by a fourteen years of bloody civil war. The United Nations Mission is yet to release the actual figure of the number of persons that took up arms during the civil war. The statistics, which covers the period of six months, shows that up to date, a total of 72,652 ex-combatants have been disarmed by UNMIL.

Briefing journalists on a wide range of issues, the Deputy representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Liberia, Mr. Sourer Seraydarian, said of the 72,652 persons disarmed, 13805 are women, 5,989 child soldiers, while the rest are older men. He spoke to journalists on 8 September 2004 at the UNMIL regular weekly news conference.

According to him, UNMIL was able to collect 18,057 AK-47 raffles, 638 machine guns, 1,634 RPGs and 157 mortar launchers, respectively.

Unlike the 1997 disarmament exercises held strictly under the supervision of the West African Peace Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), the military arm of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the current disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) exercise being conducted by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has made some significant achievements.

Those disarmed, the Mission said, include ex-fighters of the three former belligerent groups: the former Government of Liberia ( Charles Taylor-led regime), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) and Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), while there are other former freelance fighters who also participated in the war.

The disarmament exercise, which is currently in its sixth month, covers nine of the 15 political sub-divisions of Liberia. The nine counties include Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Margibi, Bong, Grand Bassa, River Cess, Grand Gedeh and Nimba, while Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee, Sinoe, Lofa and Gbarpolu still await the DDRR program.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General Special Representative in Liberia, Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein has issued a stern warning to all the ex-combatants who are yet to give up their arms to do so or face the consequences of their action.

The tough and out-spoken former US military general, has given the ex-fighters two months ultimatum to submit to the on going DDRR exercises now or before October 30, 2004, the deadline set for the disarmament exercises. Ambassador Klein noted that any ex-combatant who failed to meet up with this deadline would be dealt with under the law of Liberia.

Speaking at the Mission’s regular weekly news briefing in Monrovia on September 1, 2004, the head of the DDRR exercise, Mr. Clive Jacnie disclosed that 63,163 ex-combatants have successfully gone through the rehabilitation exercises but added that the Mission has planned to close down some DDRR sites around the country.

The sites expected to be affected, according to Mr. Jacnie, include the ones located at the former Voice of America (VOA) in Brewersville and Tubmanburg, the former military headquarters of LURD. He said ex-fighters in Tubmanburg are not responding to the DDRR exercise, therefore, there are no reasons to keep the site running.