UN to scrap Afghanistan 'demob' scheme

The United Nations Mission for Afghanistan and the ministry of defence have stopped paying "demobilised" soldiers after extortion attempts by regional commanders.

    Efforts are underway to build a multi-ethnic army in Afghanistan

    "Afghanistan's 'new beginning programme', following the request from the ministry of defence, has informed that there will be no more cash payments for any demobilised soldier," Manoel de Almeida e Silva told a news conference in Kabul on Sunday. 

    "The reason for the stopping (of the payments) is the extortion of these moneys paid to ex-soldiers by some commanders," he said. 

    After the extortion was uncovered in northeastern Kunduz province cash payments to demobilised soldiers would also be halted elsewhere, he said.

    The DDR campaign

    The UN-backed Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) campaign, piloted in four major cities since last October, is aimed at disarming 100,000 to 200,000 former militias who fought Russians and later ousted Taliban from power in 2001. 

    "The reason for the stop (of payment) is the extortion of these moneys paid to ex-soldiers by some commanders."

    Manoel de Almeida e Silva,
    UN spokesperson

    It is also aimed at reducing the power of regional commanders who hold sway over the large parts of the country, preventing president Hamid Karzai's US-backed administration's from extending its authority behind the capital Kabul. 

    So far, about 5475 men have been disarmed in the four ongoing pilot projects in the country and 4257 weapons have been collected from militias, he said. 

    Another 5370 militiamen have been demobilised in northeastern Kunduz, southeastern Paktia, Kabul and northern Parwan provinces, according to the UN spokesman. 

    Efforts under a US-led programme are underway to build
    Afghanistan's multi-ethnic national army, being recruited from
    ordinary citizens including volunteers from the former militiamen. 

    The US wants the new army which currently numbers about 7500 soldiers, to grow into a 70,000-strong force.

    SOURCE: AFP


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