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EC gives US $ 801,980 for reintegration of "Ninja" rebels

The EC announced on Tuesday that it was giving €731,000 (US $801,980) to help with the demobilisation and reintegration of former "Ninja" rebels in the Pool region of the Republic of Congo (ROC).

In a statement, the EC said that the money, channelled through the United Nations Development Programme, would be used to facilitate the return of former combatants to their villages through the launch of income-generating activities over a six-month period.

It said that more EC-funded projects would follow, particularly in the field of a regional disarmament and reintegration programme already in place.

The government and "Ninja" rebels signed an agreement on 17 March to stop fighting in the Pool region. Hostilities broke out in March 2002, despite peace accords signed in 1999 that were designed to end a cycle of civil wars which plagued the country in the 1990s.

The EC said the 17 March agreement could act as an anchor for a more peaceful future. However, it added that the political and military situation remained precarious and that a coherent resettlement programme for 1,000 former "Ninja" rebels was essential for longterm stability. It said the large number of mobilised militias and the profusion of small arms was a serious threat to stability.

The EC said that the recent fighting between the government and "Ninjas" had displaced 90,000 out of a total Pool population of 200,000 and that large areas in the region had been devastated.

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