Combatants In Monrovia Start Disarming Again, But...
By: C. Y. Kwanue
From Camp Schieffelin
Posted December 12, 2003
Following two days of an abrupt disruption of the ongoing disarmament exercise that commenced on 7th December at the Camp Schieffelin cantonment site out side Monrovia, an overwhelming number of combatants submitted themselves on 12th December, ready to disarm.
Our reporter who visited the site late in the afternoon witnessed UNMIL peacekeepers keeping watch with canes and very busy maintaining law and order as the fighters scrambled to hand in their weapons and quickly go through the process of enumeration.
To speed up the process, the long queue of ex-fighters had been divided into segments in groups of single-files, which according to a UNDP monitor, helps with the language barrier as well.
The combatants’ ardent desire to disarm was observed to be so overwhelming among most of whom had come from far away counties including Grand Bassa, Nimba, Bong and Lofa and who formed part of the process. Interestingly, two white horses at the cantonment site were seen galloping in apparent approval of the trend of the disarmament process.
Our reporter however, observed what might tend to cause some hitches as some of the combatants contended. Some combatants charged among other things that the process was very slow because UNMIL officers supervising the process were seemingly interested only in taking their arms rather than making them get their money faster.
For example, the fighters said, about 5000 of them get registered a day, but only some 100 or 150 will receive the US$75.00, while the rest of them linger in the scorching sun without food, medical attention and even places to attend to nature’s call etc.
However, the United Nations Mission in Liberia(UNMIL), who launched the disarmament process have said that on the first day of the process, a very high number of combatants presented themselves for disarmament. As a result, an UNMIL release said, the disturbances which earlier precipitated the process have ceased following agreement to pay the combatants an initial stipend and that the situation has remained quiet up to present.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he is very much concerned about the latest development in Monrovia. According to a foreign news monitored, Mr. Annan said he wishes to stress that the leaders of the armed factions be responsible for the behavior of their combatants. He thus called upon them to cooperate fully with UNMIL.
The UN boss also appealed to member-states to make available in a timely manner the troops pledged for UNMIL, in order to enable the Mission to create the necessary security environment in the country.