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UN asks for additional $58 million to help ex-fighters in Liberia

UN asks for additional $58 million to help ex-fighters in Liberia

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today issued an appeal for $58 million to help 47,000 ex-fighters in Liberia, warning that peace in the West African country could become unravelled if the former soldiers do not get urgently needed education and job training after laying down their weapons.

The additional funds are on top of the $30 million already received or pledged to the rehabilitation and reintegration phase of a plan to help former combatants in Liberia's 14-year civil war, UNDP said.

Some 20,035 ex-fighters already have been through the "RR" portion of the three-year-long Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) programme, but UNDP warned that another 47,025 ex-combatants are at risk of missing the last two phases because of the lack of financing.

As of the formal end of demobilization activities on 31 October, a total of 95,615 former combatants have been disarmed and demobilized, including 9,251 child soldiers and 17,147 women fighters.

The additional caseload signalled an "unanticipated though welcome" desire of former fighters that have completed the demobilization phase of the DDRR programme, UNDP said in a news release.

"Now as greater numbers of former combatants want to make their way homeward to reclaim their lives and take up new livelihoods, the international community must help widen the critical safety net it has put into place, to hedge against reverses to conflict and to plant the seeds of a peaceful and prosperous Liberia," it said.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his latest report to the Security Council on Liberia, warned that the ex-combatants "constitute a highly volatile group of unemployed youth with little or no education or job skills, for whom the provision of training, education and work opportunities is urgently needed."