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Liberia: 1 dead in unrest, UN quells rioting with teargas

Liberia: 1 dead in unrest, UN quells rioting with teargas

One person was killed and four others injured when a protest by Liberian ex-combatants seeking payment under a United Nations disarmament plan degenerated into a riot and looting yesterday in the capital Monrovia. UN forces responded with teargas to restore order.

The rioting began when some ex-combatants, the majority of whom had been paid $75 for part of the disarmament and reintegration programme (DDRR) in the war-torn West African country, requested to complete DDRR and receive the balance of their money, senior UN officials told UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Radio.

Noting that the generals responsible for the ex-combatants insisted that their men were told to go home and the people rioting in the streets at the Red Light area of Monrovia were not part of the units going through DDRR, UN Police Commissioner Mark Kroeker said a street mob appeared to be responsible.

“But the result was the riot and now it’s under control,” he told UNMIL Radio. “Quite a few canisters of teargas were used to disperse crowds at several locations and the unfortunate reality is that one person has lost his life and order has been restored.”

He said the dead man was assaulted by a group of people. UN military and police forces were still in the area and the situation was reported to be quiet now. “But it is volatile and so we are going to maintain a substantial presence in the area to make sure that if anything happens, we can be there very quickly to keep anything from escalating unnecessarily,” Commissioner Kroeker said.

DDRR is a major component of the UN Mission set up last year to bring peace to Liberia after a ceasefire between the government and two major rebel groups ended nearly 12 years of fierce fighting that claimed hundreds of thousands of victims among dead, injured, refugees and internally displaced people.

During DDRR, combatants report to designated pick-up points with their weapons and ammunition and are transported to cantonment areas for demobilization. After a minimum seven-day stay, they are discharged and provided with an initial payment and transport assistance to support their return to their communities of choice. After three months, they each get another stipend to help them start new lives. By then, they should be participating in specific reintegration projects.