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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

COTE D'IVOIRE: US $111 million to demobilize 30,000 ex-fighters

ABIDJAN, 19 January 2004 (IRIN) - As many as 30,000 former fighters could go through Cote d’Ivoire’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme, the head of the National DDR Committee, Alain Donwahi, said on Sunday.

“We don’t think we will go beyond 30,000 ex-combatants”, Donwahi said on national TV.

The programme will cover pro-government militias, members of rebel groups that continue to occupy a large swathe of territory in northern Cote d’Ivoire, and civilians who fought on both sides. Its beneficiaries will also include 4,000 people recruited into the national army soon after war broke out in September 2002.

“The main concern for recruiting these people [into the army] was for the war,” said Donwahi, whose committee is attached to the Office of the Prime Minister. “It was not part of a military recruitment programme, and because we are no longer at war, the CNDDR [Comite national de desarmement, demobilisation et reintegration - National DDR committee] has decided to send them back to civilian life.”

The preliminary cost of the DDR programme is estimated at US $111.3 millions (60 billion FCFA), of which the Ivorian government is expected to contribute $22 million. At a briefing on Thursday, Donwahi said the World Bank, the European Union, the United Nations, the French Cooperation Agency were among donors who would foot the bulk of the DDR bill.

“We’ve already received some money,” Donwahi said, without specifying any amount.

He explained that disarmament and demobilization could take up to four months, while reintegrating the former combatants into society could require as much as two years.

Each combatant is to receive a reintegration package of about $924 in six monthly instalments, Donwahi told the press.

In neighbouring Liberia, where the UN is also organizing a DDR process, ex-fighters are to receive a total of $150. Some 40,000 people are expected to disarm there.

No date has been set for the official launch of the disarmament programme. However the CNDDR has already identified 17 sites, nine of them in rebel-held territory, where DDR would take place.

The demobilisation of children is another component of the peace effort in Cote d’Ivoire. UNICEF, the UN Chidren’s Fund, is operating three centres for young fighters - two for boys and one for girls - in the rebel stronghold of Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire’s second largest town. UNICEF officials have not, however, said how many children are under their care.

There is also a child-soldier centre in the western town of Man, while one is expected to be set up in Korhogo, in the north.

The DDR programme is part of a peace process that has had its fair share of ups and downs in recent months. Its future had seemed pretty bleak late last year when disagreements within the government of national unity led to the withdrawal of rebel ministers. They recently returned but tensions have flared up again, this time over the dismissal of the managing director and the chairman of the board of the state-run radio and television company, RTI.

Communications Minister Guillaume Soro, who is also a rebel leader, removed the two men last week, prompting vociferous reactions from RTI workers and pro-government militants known as the ‘Young Patriots’.

Soro had attempted last year to dismiss the managing director, George Aboke. However, Aboke appealed against the action in a court of law and was allowed to retain his post pending the court’s decision.

The court has not yet ruled on the case.

 

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict

[ENDS]

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