Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Liberia: rethinking the demobilization strategy ....

Fighters have rioted, firing their guns and looting ... and according to AFP, some even laid siege to the UN Mission to Liberia (UNMIL) offices.

Now UNMIL has reconsidered its demobilization strategy. It has changed the way it's giving out the cash and the number of fighters it'll take on.
The disarmament program will also be scaled back to process a maximum 400 former fighters every day at the Schieffelin military barracks just outside Monrovia, with the emphasis placed on government soldiers and members of Taylor's irregular militias.
And about the money ... the fighters were upset about being asked to hand in their guns and not getting money up front. Now, they'll get $75 up front, another $75 once they complete the three-week demobilization program, and the balance ($150) once they're back in the community.

Note this ... last Thursday, Refugees International (RI) publically warned the UN not to rush the demobilization ... and the criticism is still valid.
"... [RI] expressed concern that disarmament was due to begin this week with only 5,000 of the planned 15,000 UN peacekeeping troops actually deployed in Liberia.

It also warned that international relief agencies had so far been focussing mainly on the care of people displaced from their homes by Liberia's 14-year civil war and had limited capacity to support the reintegration of an estimated 38,000 combatants at short notice.

... "DDRR programmes [Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration] in Liberia have been implemented unsuccessfully twice before and each time combatants took up arms again. It is imperative that the current DDRR process is a success," it added.
The point about there not being enough peacekeepers ....
The incidents [riots] had led to a fresh deterioration in security, forcing UNHCR to cancel two missions to Zwedu and Harper and put on hold a relocation of internally displaced people from public buildings in Margibi County, [UNHCR spokesperson] Mr. Janowski added. (link)
UNMIL is supposed to have its full complement of 15,000 peacekeepers by late February or ealry March.