Global Policy Forum

Thousands Disarmed Since December, UN Official Says

Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 28, 2004

Burundi has disarmed and demobilised 7,282 former combatants since December 2004 under an ongoing programme that includes their reintegration into society, a military spokesman for the UN Mission in Burundi (ONUB) has said. The spokesman, Maj Adama Diop, told IRIN on Saturday that of this figure, 6,315 were men, 328 women and 639 children.

He said as of Thursday at least two disarmament centres, in the west-central province of Bubanza and another in the central province of Gitega, had been emptied of ex-combatants. Some had been integrated into the country's security forces and others reintegrated into civilian life. He said there were still 48 female ex-combatants at the disarmament centre in the west-central province of Muramvya.

At a centre referred to as the Demobilisation Waiting Area in Buramata, Bubanza Province, 2,048 senior ex-rebel fighters await disarmament. Diop said that following an agreement between Burundi's Joint Military Command and the joint liaison teams involved in the DDR process, these senior ex-rebels would first be paid the equivalent of 18-months' salary, at their rank, before their integration into the army or police. They would receive an initial lump sum payment equivalent to nine months' pay and be paid the balance later in two installments.

At the Gashingwa disarmament centre in the central province of Muramyva there were, until last week, 1,314 ex-fighters of the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la defense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD. At the Rugazi centre in Bubanza, there were 6,406 CNDD-FDD ex-combatants awaiting integration into the national police force. Diop said ONUB started moving these ex-combatants from the area on Thursday.

At centres in Kibuye and Buramata, all in Bubanza, there were 2,888 and 2,043 CNDD-FDD former combatants, respectively. Of those in Kibuye, 969 were due to join the newly integrated National Defence Force (NDF) while 417 would be reintegrated into civilian life. Ex-combatants of smaller former rebel groups were also targeted in the latest DDR effort. Of some 238 former fighters loyal to a former CNDD-FDD faction that has since changed into a political party called Kaze-FDD, 114 were to join the NDF and 124 to reintegrate into society.

Of some 86 ex-combatants loyal to the former Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), which also changed its name to FNL-Icanzo when it became a political party, 27 were due to join the NDF and 59 reintegrated into civilian life. Another 416 ex-combatants, loyal to the Parti liberateur du people or Palipe-Agakiza - initially part of the FNL faction led by Agathon Rwasa - were due to join the NDF while 22 others would rejoin civilian life. Of those loyal to the Front de liberation nationale (Frolina), which is now a political party, 482 were designated to join the NDF while 79 others were to return to civilian life.

Diop said the UN mission regularly verified the identities of the ex-combatants. "There are techniques to determine who is a fake and who had been a genuine fighter," he said. Upon disarmament at pre-disarmament assembly centres, he said, the former combatants were sent to cantonment sites where, under ONUB protection, they decided whether to rejoin civilian life or be integrated into either the army or the police.

Those entering the army are sent to a harmonisation centre at Tenga, north of the capital, Bujumbura, where they mix with other ex-combatants destined for the NDF. Those joining the police force are taken to police training centres. Diop said former Burundian government troops were sent from their barracks to demobilisation sites. The DDR plan is scheduled to run for four years, Diop said, with the formation of an initial 45,000-member National Defence Force, which would later be reduced to 30,000 and finally to 25,000 troops.

He said on the DDR programme, ONUB worked with the Joint Ceasefire Commission, the Integrated Military Command and their joint liaison teams.




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