The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has given logistical support to the demobilization of 2,000 Mayi-Mayi militia, 700 of whom wish to return to civilian life and the rest to be integrated into the DRC's national military forces.
The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) said today that the group of former fighters, who had been involved in prolonged fighting in the eastern region, assembled in the Lumumba Stadium in the eastern town of Kindu on Saturday.
"Those who chose to be integrated into the army were straightaway put on board transport trucks …and taken to Camp Lwama (7 kilometres from Kindu)," it said.
There, all were registered and photographed, especially children associated with the armed groups and women. Similarly, child soldiers and those too old to serve with the army were being listed, it said.
The weapons and uniforms of the demobilized were gathered together and given to the commanders of the seventh military district, MONUC said.
Several other Mai-Mai units were waiting in their localities for registration, while a number of units were on their way to Kindu, MONUC said. This massing of former fighters, along with the women and children among them, would raise the problem of providing them all with humanitarian aid.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said some 10,000 civilians had recently returned to eastern Walikale territory, about 100 kilometres from the border with Rwanda and were suffering from a lack of basic services, such as health care, education and water supplies.
An assessment team that accompanied the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, earlier this month found that only one of the area's 24 health centres was fully accessible and all the schools had been seriously damaged, it said.