A meeting of the Tripartite Committee of the Government of Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL and RUF got underway in the Eastern District headquarters town of Kenema this morning to review progress in the disarmament process and to discuss its ongoing implementation.
During the 17 July Tripartite meeting in Bo, it was agreed that disarmament centres and demobilization camps will continue to open throughout the country on a rolling basis, with sites to open in August in Koinadugu and Moyamba, followed by sites in Bombali and Bo districts, then Tonkilili and Pujehun districts, and finally, Kenema and Kailahun districts.
Latest reports from Kono indicate that disarmament is nearing completion in the district where thousands of ex-combatants have now disarmed to UNAMSIL and are undergoing demobilization at NCDDR camps.
RUF Interim Leader, Issa Sesay, precipitated the upsurge in the disarmament process by given orders on July 30 that RUF fighters in the district should disarm by July 31. This created a rush of more RUF combatants to the disarmament centres than could be disarmed in one day.
Issa's instructions came on the heels of confidence building measures involving the RUF and CDF in Kono the previous week, following skirmishes between the CDF and RUF in early to mid -July, which slowed the pace of disarmament.
Expressing optimism over the current momentum of the disarmament process in Kono, RUF Liaison Officer at NCDDR, Mr. Prince Taylor, anticipates the completion of RUF disarmament in the district very soon. He is confident that once Kono, which he considers a sensitive area, is cleared, the disarmament process would go on smoothly and speedily in other areas of the country. Prince has meanwhile called on combatants who have not yet disarmed to do so as a matter of urgency if they want to contribute to the peace process and at the same time better their lot.
CDF Liaison Officer at the NCDDR, Mr. Baimba Zorokong, shares Prince Taylor's optimism about the prospects for accelerated disarmament and lasting peace in light of the positive developments in Kono. Baimba says the CDF is committed to total disarmament, and the CDF will work relentlessly to achieve this national imperative throughout the country. Like Prince, Baimba regards the success of the process in Kono as the real beginning of the end of nation-wide disarmament.
The two liaison officers, however, stressed the crucial need to engage ex-combatants after their discharge from demobilisation centres. They said that reintegration options should be made available in various parts of the country so that ex-combatants can access such options wherever they are. Meanwhile, Prince is urging the civil population to readily accommodate the ex-combatants and adopt a positive attitude towards them.
DDR Donor Update
Following appeals at a donor meeting in Paris in May this year for an additional US $31 million for DDR, pledges have come from the European Commission (10 million Euros), the Government of Germany (10 million DM) and the Swedish government (6 million Kr.).
As DDR activities move into the fast track, with increasing numbers of ex-combatants disarming, Dr. Kai-Kai sees a critical link between adequate and quick availability of the requisite funding and speedy attainment of sustainable peace in Sierra Leone. Accordingly, the Executive Director is renewing his appeal to those donors who have expressed interest in the on-going peace process to consider the DDR programmes as the gateway to achieving lasting peace in the country.
Speaking against the backdrop of an increasingly favourable donor response to NCDDR's fiscal requirements, the Executive Secretary, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai says the provision of insertion packages for ex-combatants discharged from demobilization centres would constitute the key priority area in expending the expected donor funds.
Other DDR programmes that would benefit from the donor funds, says Dr. Kai-Kai, are the successful completion of the disarmament and demobilization process and various reintegration opportunities that are being planned for ex-combatants throughout the country.
STATUS OF DISARMAMENT AS OF 6 AUGUST 2001
The pace of disarmament is moving rapidly, with large numbers of combatants presenting themselves to disarmament centres and demobilization camps in Kono. The Joint Operations Centre of NCDDR and UNAMSIL reports that over 3000 combatants have disarmed in Kono from 31 July to 8 August. NCDDR'S Monitoring and Evaluation Unit reports a total of 10,812 disarmed throughout Sierra Leone from 18 May through 6 August. This number should increase dramatically as UNAMSIL Military Observer completed disarmament forms are sent to NCDDR and verified.
The above graph reflects the rise in the numbers of disarmed combatants since the recommencement of full disarmament exercises following meetings in Abuja in April and in Freetown in May 2001. At these meetings the parties to the conflict in Sierra Leone agreed to revive the disarmament process in Sierra Leone. The total number disarmed at any time since 18 May is represented by the full area under the curve. The contribution of each major disarming group to the total number disarmed, including the RUF, CDF, and others, is represented by the areas under the curve matching the shaded boxes listed below the graph.
Information and Sensitisation Unit
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