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DIAG - Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups

It is misleading to hope for a smooth transition from "war" to "peace", especially since the distinction is blurry in the history of Afghanistan. Following the completion in July 2005 of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process, there were still an estimated 1,800 armed bands consisting of up to 100,000 individuals.

Disarmament of the Afghan militia forces remained insufficient to create a secure environment for parliamentary elections. The Government, with the support of the international community, started to tackle the problem of illegal armed groups. These groups, who are not on the payroll of the Ministry of Defence, exist throughout the country and may include ex-combatants from decommissioned units who did not enter the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process. These groups perpetuate the drug industry, impose illegal taxes on individuals in reconstruction programmes and impede the progress of State expansion.

There are many irregular armed groups and individuals that are not linked to known militia forces and which operate privately. Many of these illegal militias have links to drug mafias and those who obtain funding from illegal taxes in their areas. Part of the program is creating a code of conduct for weapon ownership and punishment for holding illegal firearms. This would cover tens of thousands of people -- many, many times bigger than the size of militia forces to be disarmed through the DDR.

There are several different categories of the irregular militias scattered in different parts of the country. One category one are the "bad boys" who are taking money from people and stopping the customs revenues. Anothe category are individuals who walk in and say, "have some ammunition or I have got some people to be disarmed". Another are some unlicensed and unregistered security bands.

In the second half of 2005 the focus shifted to the next step: the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups - or DIAG. Illegal armed groups - which may include as many as 180,000 men across the country - may not pose a direct threat to the State of Afghanistan, but they are a serious obstacle to the restoration of state institutions - police, judiciary and civilian administration - at provincial and district levels.

The Government is conducting two pilot projects, with the support of UNAMA and international military forces; negotiations with local commanders are underway; and the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) of ISAF and the Coalition are defining the type of support that they will be required to provide. UNDP and UNAMA are currently seeking additional financial resources to support the government in this very important initiative.

Through a pilot project, under the leadership of the National Security Council, UNAMA and the Afghan New Beginnings Program are working with national and international security agencies to map and categorize more than 1,000 such Illegal Armed Groups.

The leadership of militia would need to be convinced that the drawdown of their forces would not create an opening for their rivals. The newly created national forces did not yet have the necessary capacity to provide such assurances. Accordingly, the presence of international forces, including provincial reconstruction teams, was necessary to allay the concerns of factional leaders.

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Page last modified: 17-08-2012 18:47:41 ZULU