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UNMIL starts public information campaign on demobilization

21 January The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has launched a nationwide campaign to inform Liberians about the country's disarmament and rehabilitation programme.

The opening event took place yesterday 50 kilometres northwest of Monrovia in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, the headquarters town of one of the rebel groups, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).

By mid-January UNMIL, which began work in October to enforce a peace accord between the Government and two rebel movements, had already demobilized more than 12,600 combatants - about a third of the total - and collected over 9,000 weapons.

Demobilization initially generated turmoil when more people turned up to take part than could be accommodated. The Tubmanburg briefing was the first in a new series of field visits around the country to inform combatants and communities about UNMIL's Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) programme before it resumes.

In coordinating the series, UNMIL collaborated with the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (NCDDRR), commanders of LURD, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) and ex-Government of Liberia (GOL) forces, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including child protection agencies and women's groups.

At the Sector Headquarters of the UNMIL Pakistani Contingent in Tubmanburg, a joint team, including commanders of LURD, MODEL and ex-GOL, went over the details of the DDRR programme's procedures and benefits with traditional chiefs as well as community and religious leaders.

The team then met with over 300 LURD combatants at their headquarters, where the Flomo Theatre Troupe and the Musicians' Union of Liberia communicated peace and disarmament messages through music and comedy. Combatants picked up cartoon flyers depicting the DDRR process and UNMIL's deployment.

Addressing the soldiers, ex-GOL General Tamba Kandeh said, "Before now, I would never have dared come to Tubmanburg, but now I am here."

This was an indication, he said, that peace had come to Liberia.

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