Discharge of disqualified PLA fighters comes to an end

KATHMANDU: Following the release of 268 individuals after more than three years in the Maoist cantonment at Dahaban in Rolpa, the discharge process of disqualified combatants has come to an end.

In all, 2,394 young men and women who joined the Maoist army as minors, and late recruits, have been discharged from seven cantonments across Nepal over the past one month.

According to a UN statement, a total of 2,973

individuals were disqualified from the Maoist

army as minors in a United Nations verification process that ended in December 2007.

About 500 of them are still under the age of 18, and 15 are under 16. Another group of 1,035 were disqualified because they were recruited after the accord in May 2006 that ended 10 years of the armed conflict. Roughly one-third of the total number of those disqualified are females.

UNICEF Country Representative Gillian Mellsop said, “The release of these young people today is not only symbolic for the country but a milestone for these young men and women who spent their formative years inside a military structure losing out on critical skills vital for adulthood.”

“All those concerned must now act swiftly to ensure that they reintegrate successfully and help build Nepali society fractured after this long conflict,” Mellsop added.

Rehabilitation packages supported by the government and the UN are available for those discharged. The packages include: formal schooling, vocational training, training as health workers, and to set up small/micro-enterprises. The UN statement added that they have 12 months from their date of discharge to sign up for one of these packages.

Further, a United Nations team will monitor the UCPN-M’s compliance with the Action Plan. The Plan holds the party accountable for re-recruitment of those discharged into the Maoist army or their engagement in violent activities within the organisations aligned to the Maoists.

Minors’ release to cross UCPN-M off UN’s blacklist?

DAHABAN: After concluding the process of sending all disqualified combatants out of the cantonments, the UCPN-Maoist has been eligible for delisting by the United Nations as an organisation conscripting children as militants.

Addressing a concluding programme of farewell to the combatants held in the Fifth Division of the PLA in Rolpa’s Dahaban, Karen Landgren, head, United Nations Mission in Nepal, said the Maoists could now be delisted as a body recruiting children as fighters. “The action plan worked out by the government of Nepal, the Maoists and the UNMIN for discharging the disqualified combatants will be monitored by the UNMIN. In the event of the Maoists following the plan, their name can be removed from the list, which is published in the annual report of the UN secretary general,” she added.

Speaking on behalf of the ambassadors of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, British Ambassador to Nepal Andrew Hall termed the Maoist

cooperation in the process of sending the disqualified home a move to achieve that success. Maoist chairman Prachanda, however, did not pass comments on the issue.

The UN will monitor the activities of the

disqualified for six months. “This is a positive step towards a logical end to the peace process in Nepal. The most important things at such a moment are trust and cooperation among political parties,” Landgren said.