Under a government demobilisation scheme, former fighters are given money to start earning a living through a project of their choice. The projects have to be approved by Community Development Committees (CDCs), which check that they are financially viable, environmentally friendly and socially acceptable. But the government is concerned that the committees are not up to the task.
"The CDCs are not competent enough to appraise the projects, and so we need NGOs and local associations to support them," Faustin Rwigema, the coordinator of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, told IRIN on Thursday. "We are trying to identify supporters from international and local NGOs to help build the capacity of CDCs. We also want to be able to tell ex-fighters that if they need help in their projects, they can go to an NGO or someone with expertise."
Rwigema told IRIN that, so far, the response from NGOs to the appeal had been limited, and that the government was advertising for their help.
The ex-fighters who can benefit from the demobilisation package fall into three categories - soldiers from the Rwanda Defence Force (formerly the Rwanda Patriotic Army), soldiers of the former Rwandan armed forces, and members of former armed groups, including militiamen who fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo after the 1994 genocide.
When they demobilise, they can qualify for a variety of financial packages, including a reintegration grant of 100,000 R francs (about US $360). Most of them come from rural areas and choose to start an agricultural project such as livestock rearing. About 20 per cent, Rwigema said, tended to choose a business such as carpentry or masonry.
The first stage of the government's demobilisation programme began in 1997 with thousands of former fighters. Rwigema said there were about 48,000 men still to be demobilised under stage two of the programme.
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