17 January 2007

Congo-Kinshasa: DDR - Conader is Waiting to Consolidate the Achievements of 2006

interview

With 99,750 people demobilised during 2006, The National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reinsertion -CONADER- is planning to continue with the DDR process, especially in the Reinsertion phase during 2007, with a view to consolidating the achievements of 2006. Evelyne Mbata, CONADER's director of information, explains the current situation.

What did CONADER accomplish in 2006?

In terms of disarmament, out of an estimated total of 330,000 troops, we were able to process 182,468 people. Among these, there were 53,427 which were voluntarily integrated into the army.

During the disarmament process, there was an estimated 100,000 to 120,000 arms handed in.

In terms of demobilisation, the initial objective was to demobilise 150,000 people. By December 24 last, there were 99,750 demobilised, of which there was 2,513 women, 97,237 men and 29,291 children.

In terms of reinsertion, of the total of 99,750, we had 85,335 people who were registered in the provinces because CONADER worked in a decentralised manner. There is the national office here, and in each of the provinces, there is a provincial office. There are also community offices, and in certain provinces, there are two or three of these.

We have a certain number of projects that we have developed and these projects give us a coverage of 80 percent of the people that have been demobilised. At present, we are taking care of 44,816 demobilised who are going through the reinsertion process.

Has the DDR process actually been suspended?

In relation to the disarmament phase, we have suspended activities since December 31 2006, in order to enter into negotiations with the donors.

But on the part of the government, we also know that the government themselves has stressed the need for 84,000 more people to enter into the process.

Our objectives are to continue the process of reinsertion, and then to get those who are not already demobilised to enter the process

Therefore whether we recommence the process or not depends on funding. At present, the funds that we have will permit us to do a certain number of activities. Currently, we have attained a certain objective which is not yet complete, as there are 150,000 people left to be demobilised. For this reason, there are negotiations to be completed with the donors, who will decide whether we should stop, or whether we can advance politically with the new government.

It is only from these negotiations that we will know effectively if the financing can be found, and then we will either continue, or we will look at other options.

What are the expectations for 2007?

For 2007, our objective is to continue the reinsertion process, and then to get those who have not already been demobilised to enter into the process.

We also have a certain number of demobilised from the first wave that we must continue to aid in the process of reinsertion.

There is equally the group that the government estimates is in the region of 80,000 to 90,000 people, who must still enter into the DDR process. We hope to be able to reach out to this group as well.

Obviously, it must not be forgotten that the government must give us another mandate which will permit us to carry out community disarmament.

What is the estimated budget for 2007?

I am unable to give the numbers at this stage, because we are in the process of working out the budget.

But we estimate that if we focus solely on reinsertion, the budget will become less important. But if we see our objectives in terms of the new wave which the government will give us to process, we will need a much bigger budget.

What are the most problematic regions?

From the point of view of security, it is above all the provinces of Katanga, as well as both North and South Kivu.

For example, in the past three months we have put integrated mobile teams on the ground, to process the people which have accepted to enter into the process.

But from the point of view of the reform of the army and the training of the brigades, I would say that the DDR process concerns the whole country.

Will DDR remain a voluntary process?

This is already a subject of negotiation between the government and the heads of the militias. But in reference to the mandate that we have been given, as long as there is no change, for us the process will remain voluntary, it's an individual choice.

We don't have a compulsory mandate, and we will not force people to enter into the process.

Do you think there has been enough sensibilisation?

I would say yes and no. I think that there has been a good level of sensibilisation because all the commanders have been informed. We have developed the tools that have allowed us to reach our targets; that is to say the candidates for the DDR process.

We have also developed our strategies with the "Structure Militaire d'Intégration".

It is important to continue raising awareness, even after conflict.

From a technical point of view, one can never have enough sensibilisation to reach everyone. We are always thinking of other strategies which will help us to reach our objectives.

I think as long as the country is not completely calm, there will always be places to talk, to use radio and television to raise awareness on the issue.

What is most important is to continue raising awareness, even after conflict. It is necessary to make sure that conflict does not return, thus I think that we will continue with the processes of reinsertion and prevention.

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