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Militia demobilisation needs $18 million more

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Kigali: With US$53million already spent over the past eight years, the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission now wants a new injection of $18million, its financers have been informed.  

Commission President Mr. Sayinzoga Jean told the World Bank and other government bilateral donors that the new appeal is for the Third Phase – in which income generating projects will be developed for about 9500 ex-combatants.

The World Bank – by far the largest contributor to the project, with about $32million since 2001, has already committed $8million to the new appeal. Government will avail $2m.

The second phase ran from November 2001 to November 2008 –meaning the new funding request is not related to the ended program, Mr. Sayinzoga said.

An estimated 60,000 ex-combatants from the Rwandan militias - currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwandan army soldiers, ex-FAR soldiers and child soldiers have been demobilised.

Demobilised soldiers undergo a two-week reintegration course, during which they are briefed on the government's programmes on demobilisation, national unity and reconciliation; the traditional Gacaca courts; and on the country's history and how past events were largely responsible for the 1994 genocide.

They are also instructed on how to reintegrate into their communities of origin, and asked to propose projects for funding.

The demobilisation of child soldiers is normally managed as a separate process. Children are given special help, such as separating them from adults in the demobilisation process, tracing their families towards effecting reunions, and providing them with trauma counselling, psychosocial care and access to education.

On demobilisation, each RDF former soldier is given the local currency equivalent of $90 while each ex-militia member gets $70, according to the Commission. They are also given basic household items such as blankets, saucepans, cups, plates and hoes.

In addition, all former army soldiers, including those of the former army associated with the genocide, the Forces armees rwandaises, known as ex-FAR, are given "recognition of service allowances" whose value varies with rank.

In other words, an army private receives the equivalent of $180, whereas a colonel gets $820. The money is paid in cash in two instalments, the first within three months of discharge.

The Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Program is making considerable progress in enabling thousands of former combatants to return to productive civilian life, the World Bank says.

Successful economic reintegration of ex-combatants is critical to maintaining stability, it points out. But also notes that the protracted rate of disarmament and repatriation of DRC - based Rwandan groups remains a matter of concern.

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