DR Congo: 3,500 ex-militia members in volatile district agree to disarm

21 August 2007

Another 3,500 ex-militia members from one of the most volatile corners of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have agreed to disarm, demobilize and try to reintegrate into the community, the United Nations peacekeeping mission to the vast African country has reported.

The mission, known as MONUC, reported that three armed groups in Ituri district in the DRC’s far northeast provided lists of combatants by last Friday’s deadline to join the third phase of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme, which is run by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The militias involved are the Mouvement Revolutionnaire Congolais (MRC), the Front de Résistance Patriotique de l’Ituri (FRPI) and the Front des Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes (FNI).

Under the programme, the ex-militia members will be registered, asked to hand over their arms and then given assistance to reintegrate into either civilian life or the national armed forces. UNDP expects about 70 per cent of the former combatants will choose civilian life, while 30 per cent will retrain for the new integrated brigades of the armed forces.

Combatants rejoining civilian life will receive $110 to help with transport costs and an entry card into the community reconstruction service, which will allow them to work on manual labour projects such as the rehabilitation of roads, schools and sanitary systems for $2 a day for up to 90 days. If they want to set up their own business, they will be given access to microfinance through local non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Former militia members wanting to enter the integrated armed forces will be transported to the city of Kisangani for training before they can enter the brigades.

Last week the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the DRC – and MONUC chief – William Lacy Swing travelled with the mission’s force commander Gen. Babacar Gaye to the town of Bunia in Ituri for a two-day visit to evaluate the progress of the DDR programme.

During his visit Mr. Swing stressed the need for participants to adhere strictly to the timetable of the DDR programme so that it can continue through all of its phases.

He also emphasized the importance of the “one man, one weapon” concept, which is a requirement of the DDR programme’s third phase.

“There are issues relating to registered troops who present themselves for DDR but do not have weapons, and others who come with a weapon but are not registered for the programme,” Mr. Swing said.

 

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