Côte dIvoire UN helps ease former fighters return to civilian life

6 February 2009The United Nations is helping former combatants and members of self-defence forces to ease back into civilian life in Côte d’Ivoire, which has been divided since 2002 between the Government-held south and opposition-dominated north. The six-month initiative will offer vocational training and assistance for some 1,300 people and set up over 1,000 micro-credit projects, such as cattle farming and retailing activities.Funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, it is a joint scheme of the UN peacekeeping operation in the West African nation (UNOCI), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the non-governmental organization International Office for Migration (IOM).So far, around 10,000 former fighters have been disarmed in Côte d’Ivoire, with an additional 35,000 combatants and 20,000 self-defence group members waiting to be reintegrated. Some 9,000 ex-fighters will be integrated into the army and national police force.Demobilization and reintegration of ex-fighters is an important part of the 2007 Ouagadougou Agreement, the political accord reached in neighbouring Burkina Faso that aims to reconcile the Government and the rebel Forces Nouvelles. read more