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West African Ex-Combatants Re-Integration Examined

UN-Backed Forum To Look At Community Re-Integration For West African Ex-Combatants

Seeking to avoid renewed violence in West Africa, a United Nations-backed meeting tomorrow is set to look at new approaches to rehabilitating and re-integrating some 200,000 former combatants in the region.

The forum in Dakar, Senegal, which is co-sponsored by the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) along with a European and African conflict prevention centre (CREAF), also aims to review what happens to peace processes and post-conflict recovery when the reintegration of ex-combatants into their communities is inadequate.

The two successful disarmament and demobilization programmes have taken place in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

UNOWA, which previously organized two other forums on dealing with post-conflict problems, noted that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently told the Security Council that the lack of funding "in particular for the reintegration and rehabilitation phases of DDRR programmes, is disturbing, given their central importance."

UNOWA's Ahmed Rhazaoui, co-chair of tomorrow's forum, said the hope was to move the DDRR process one step further "by focusing our attention on the urgent need to implement well-designed and adequately funded 'R' programmes."

Participants are expected to include representatives of National Commissions for Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR), UN peacekeeping missions, UN agencies, civil society organizations and donors.

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