Liberia: Greater efforts needed for reintegration of former female fighters

Amnesty International has released a report showing how female combatants and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights associated with fighting forces were discriminated against and largely left out of the disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation, and reintegration (DDRR) process in Liberia.

The release of the report Liberia: A flawed process discriminates against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights followed a series of events this weekend in Monrovia, including a concert and film screening of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights of Liberia: Fighting for Peace on Saturday, 29 March at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium.

The film highlights the struggle that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights formerly associated with the fighting forces face as they take steps to reintegrate into society. The film culminates in revealing that they are peacemakers.

Tania Bernath, Amnesty International’s Liberia Researcher, said:

“Although Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s participation in the fighting forces was taken into account during the planning stages of the DDRR programme, many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were left out who should have benefited during the implementation of the programme.

“These Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights – many of whom suffer in silence from the shame and stigma of having been associated with the fighting forces – are struggling to meet their own needs and those of their Children's rights with few economic opportunities available to them.”

Amnesty International called on the government to ensure that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls are prioritised in the final phase of the reintegration process, which started this year.

Amnesty International’s report provides guidance as to how programmes should address the needs of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and ease the burden of their overwhelming responsibilities as mothers and wives.

Recommendations in the report include but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring that gender-appropriate information campaigns are made accessible to Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls by working with Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s organisations that work in the various areas;
  • Ensuring that psycho-social counselling is available in communities to all (Children's rights, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and men) who require this service;
  • Ensuring that programmes are accessible to Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights experiencing particular health problems related to their experience of the conflict.

Background information

  • Conflict in Liberia raged from 1989 - 1997 and erupted again from 1999-2003.
  • Estimates of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls associated with fighting forces are in the range of 30-40 per cent of all fighting forces – or approximately 25,000-30,000.
  • The majority of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were forced to participate, although it is also estimated that significantly more Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights opted to participate in the second conflict than in the first. They chose to take up arms to protect themselves from sexual violence, to avenge the death of family members, because of peer pressure, for material gain, and for survival.
  • Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights played roles as commanders, porters, spies, sex slaves, cooks and mothers.
  • In 2003, following the end of the conflict, a DDRR programme began. Officially, by the time the disarmament and demobilisation phase had ended in late 2004, more than 103,000 ex-combatants, significantly more than the 38,000 originally planned for, had been disarmed and demobilised.
  • Of these, approximately 22,000 were Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and 2,740, girls. Although this number is high compared to other DDRR programmes, it is believed to represent only a fraction of the total number of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls that participated in the conflict.

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