The programme, named "Afghanistan's New Beginnings Programme," will help identify, collect and store heavy and light weapons, and offer former army soldiers and Mujaheddin combatants alternative sources of income. Soldiers who have either chosen to leave the army, or are being involuntarily demobilized, will have to surrender their weapons in order to be eligible for the demobilization programme. Incentives will include one-time cash and/or in-kind benefits, targeted micro-credit programmes and possibly financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises. A "National Solidarity Programme" will provide a range of incentives for communities to demobilize.
Among the main targets of the programme are the middle ranks of Mujaheddin commanders, who still control many communities. "As long as these commanders are seen to provide economic opportunities for their communities, they are likely to remain powerful," said UNDP Country Director in Afghanistan, Ercan Murat.
The reintegration phase of the programme includes vocational training and facilitation of the return of former soldiers and combatants to their communities. A number of recently initiated programmes, such as the Employment Creation and Infrastructure Project, the Immediate Reconstruction Strategy, and the National Area Based Programme will contribute to the reintegration process through labour-intensive employment opportunities.
The Afghanistan New Beginnings Programme will open a main office in Kabul by mid-March, and will establish regional offices by early May in Mazar-I-Sharif, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Kunduz, Bamiyan, Parwan, Gardez and Herat. These offices will be staffed primarily by local personnel.
Other contributors to demobilization and reintegration efforts in Afghanistan include the Governments of Canada and the United Kingdom. The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United States are among potential donors.
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