|The Somaliland Times|
|ISSUE 40 October 26, 2002||
Controversy Surrounds NDC/GTZ Demobilizing Project
Stratfor Strategic Forecasting
Hargeisa (SL. Times) - In early 1994, most of the SNM troops and armed clan militia units in Somaliland accepted to voluntarily lay down their arms with the understanding that the disarmament phase would be followed by a reintegration assistance being offered to demobilizing combatants.
However the promised reintegration assistance has never materialized not even under a "Demobilization & Reintegration Programs" run since 2000 by the Somaliland National Demobilization Commission and the German Organization for Technical Co-operation, known as GTZ.
Today, the majority of the ex-combatants who took part in the disarmament exercise undertaken more than 7 years ago, are still unable to start a new productive life. Ex-combatants who fall under this category cannot access reintegration funds provided by NDC GTZ project.
Only people currently in the army, police or prison guards are eligible to apply.
According to a reliable source, the original project document had called for a two-tier approach for dealing with the demobilization requirements in Somaliland:
1) downsizing government armed forces and 2) reintegration of voluntarily demobilized combatants. The proposal, which was formulated in 1997, actually stressed the need to help ex-combatants and war-widows reintegrate into the greater society.
Apparently, the Somaliland government and the European Commission agreed to limit the programme target group only to people serving in the Army, Police and Custodial corpses. The exclusion of ex-combatants has sparked strong feelings of bitterness and betrayal amongst the war-veterans community. Some ex-combatants even wish if they could go back to arms to become eligible for assistance by the NDC/GTZ
"Yes why not if the only condition for getting help is to be armed," said an unemployed ex-combatant living with his large family in Hargeisa.
But even when the performance of the project is taken at face value, the outcome isnít encouraging. Though launched in the year 2000, the project has so far assisted only between 100-200 people organized in small groups. Almost none of the beneficiaries have realized a successful reintegration with the assistance given. Failure has been attributed to a number of factors such as the lack of information as to the objectives of the project, a tendency by GTZ to decide the type or reintegration projects the applicants should select, weak planning, lack of counseling and poor staff experience in DRP affairs.
The GTZ staff actually run the project assuming the functions that otherwise would have been the responsibility of the NDC. The current demobilization and reintegration program is the second of its kind to be implemented by the GTZ in Somaliland. The organization was present here in the years of 1994, and then pulled out in November of the same year following the outbreak of violence in Hargeisa. It resumed operations towards the end of 1995 only to leave by May after one of its employees was kidnapped in Erigavo during that year.
The GTZíís first DRP had also run into problems. It was run by Ismail Wais and Ahmed Farah, two Somalis holding German citizenship, who used to authorize payment of project funds only if their palms were greased with 10% of the money awarded.