UN starts process of disarming Nepalese ex-combatants

UN starts process of disarming Nepalese ex-combatants

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The United Nations has begun registering and storing weapons of Maoist former combatants in Nepal, marking a new phase in the peace process following last year’s comprehensive agreement ending the long-running civil war in the Himalayan country.

The Office of the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative in Nepal, Ian Martin, said the registration and storage process is under way at two of seven designated cantonment sites across the nation.

UN arms monitors have been present at both sites, and registration at the remaining five is expected to begin early next week. The process has been made possible by the advance deployment of 35 monitors approved by the Security Council last month.

The first day of registration went very well thanks to “excellent cooperation” between the Maoists and UN monitors, said General Jan Erik Wilhelmsen, a UN military adviser in Nepal who visited the cantonment site in Chitwan, south of the capital Kathmandu.

The UN arms monitors are being supported by an interim task force of former Nepalese soldiers from the Indian and British armies.

The disarmament of former combatants is one of the steps being taken by the UN in support of the peace accord signed in November by the Nepalese Government and Maoist rebels who had been conducting an insurgency for a decade. More than 13,000 people are estimated to have been killed during the conflict, and thousands more have been displaced from their homes.

Last week, in a report to the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended that a small UN political mission comprising unarmed military inspectors, electoral exports, and police and civil administration teams be established to monitor the peace agreement.