PDA

View Full Version : Afghan Program to Disarm, Reintegrate 100,000 Fighters to Start in July



thedrifter
04-07-03, 09:19 AM
By Todd Pitman Associated Press Writer
Published: Apr 6, 2003

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Officials announced a landmark program Sunday to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate an estimated 100,000 fighters across Afghanistan over the next three years.
The U.N.-sponsored program with start in July and last up to three years, the government said.

But officials admitted it will not be an easy task.

Most of Afghanistan has long been ruled by warlords with vast private armies who have frequently battled one another.

Attempts to disarm fighters in northern Afghanistan have been slow and in some areas have stopped altogether because of feuding between rival warlords.

"There is no doubt that it is a very difficult process; it requires lots of expertise and an understanding of the Afghan situation," said Urban Affairs Minister Yusuf Pashtun. "But with the international community around us ... I'm sure we'll be successful."

The government of President Hamid Karzai, whose influence is largely confined to the capital, is trying to form a national army - now only several thousand men strong - to replace the fighters.

Pashtun, who also is vice chairman of the government's Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, said disarming fighters would be the easiest phase and would last at least a year.

Reintegrating and finding the fighters employment "will take much longer," he said.

Members of the new national army and private Afghan citizens who keep weapons to protect themselves would not be disarmed, said Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan.

"It is ... the tanks, the cannons, that are in the hands of the factional armies that you want to take away," he said.

U.N. mission spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said the program will help ensure that former fighters reintegrate into civilian life. It will also provide them with vocational training, employment opportunities and access to credit.

Others will be given the chance to apply for positions in the national army.

Funded by Japan, Canada, Britain and the United States, the program has a three-year budget of $157 million.

AP-ES-04-06-03 1704EDT

Sempers,

Roger