UN Earmarks Over US$49 Million For Disarmament In Liberia

By: J. Moses Gray
Inquirer Foreign News Editor

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted November 18, 2003

The United Nations has earmarked US$49,794,629.00 for the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration program (DDRRP), of about 38,000 ex-combatants of the Liberian bloody civil war.

According to a draft strategy and implementation framework document released on the DDRRP by the UN Inter-agency in Liberia, of the US$49million, the sum of US$17,977,349.00 will be required for the initial six months of the program.

The average cost per head over the duration of the program is estimated to be US$1,310 per ex-combatant, while the cost estimate will be reviewed and adjusted according to the lessons learned in preceding stages of the implementation, the document added.

The target groups, according to the document, include the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)/paramilitary, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), as well as other militias, child ex-combatants, disabled ex-combatants and women ex-combatants.

The document put the number of AFL/paramilitary at 10,000; LURD, 8,000 ex-combatants; MODEL, 5,000 ex-combatants; other militias, 5,000 ex-combatants; child ex-combatants are 8,000; while 1,800 is recorded for disabled ex-combatants, and total women ex-combatants is put at 1,000 persons.

According to the cost categories, US$8,672,000 is earmarked for demobilization, while US$11,400,000 for reintegration and US$21,750,000 for the training and employment.
Besides, the cost categories for child ex-combatants is US$2,900,000; disabled ex-combatants take US$512,000; while US$665,000 goes towards social reintegration and administration, and support cost carries US$2,444,800.00.

The document further indicates that disarmament will take place at distinct cantonments as prescribed in the peace accord and thereafter, the ex-combatants will be transported to the designated demobilization centers.

It said in the event that the two processes are consolidated at one cantonment, then upon rapid disarmament of any caseload, the group will be declared discharged and the cantonment turned into a demobilization center to allowing for civilian programs and humanitarian support.

The disarmament exercise, the document said, is envisaged on the basis of group as opposed to individuals, therefore, every fighter will be disarmed and demobilized as part of a fighting group. It said individuals who fail to turn up as part of a fighting unit and group will be subjected to individual criteria.

Accordingly, the peacekeeping forces (UNMIL) will be deployed to gain unhindered access for reconnaissance mission in order to identify suitable sites as well as facilities site preparations.

A maximum of 6-10 cantonment/demobilization centers has been envisaged in response to the size of caseload anticipated under the program. The document added that UNMIL will deploy a minimum of 10 observers to each cantonment and demobilization center.

The document further said all weapons and ammunition surrendered are to be recorded by UNMIL and verified by the military observers. All collected weapons and munitions will be destroyed.

A maximum of 30 days is envisaged for the purpose of adequately processing ex-combatants in demobilization, and that the discharge process will be continuous as the ex-combatants complete the process.

Upon the completion of the voluntary disarmament period, the document said the peacekeeping forces will initiate and conduct cordon and search operations.
According to the disarmament procedures, the exercise is expected to be divided into five main distinct but inter-related activities, namely: cantonment identification and preparation, assembly, interview, weapon collection, eligibility, certification, and transportation.
The document noted that a monetized settling-in package is provided for all ex-combatants to establish a new household. The amount suggested of this settling-in package is US$300.00 in total per ex-combatant, calculated on the basis of a basket of basic needs such as food, shelters, health, education, tools and seeds.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.