Reintegration Assessment Report: Oxfam GB in Liberia | Internally Displaced Person

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In preparation to work in post-conflict communities in diverse areas of Liberia, Oxfam GB undertook a study to better understand people's views about the reintegration process. The Protection Advisor and Program Officer from the Liberia office spoke to approximately sixty individuals: civilians living in their home communities, displaced persons in camps and villages, and current and ex-combatants (モXCsヤ, which is used broadly to include anyone associated with the fighting factions, including porters, cooks, and モwivesヤ). Service providers, especially those with experience from the previous disarmament process in 1996-1997, were also consulted. The primary objective of the study was to identify concerns and expectations regarding reintegration - from both the assistance and protection angles- to enable Oxfam to target future programs more effectively. In particular, Oxfam is concerned not to exacerbate existing tensions between different segments of the communities in which it works. Beyond this, however, the findings will help Oxfam to program in a more conflict-sensitive manner, and to strengthen its protection approach to humanitarian crises.
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    Reintegration Assessment Report Oxfam GB in Liberia Oxfam Reintegration Analysis March 2004 1 March 26, 2004    I).INTRODUCTION In preparation to work in post-conflict communities in diverse areas of Liberia, Oxfam GB undertook a study to better understand people’s views about the reintegration process. The Protection Advisor and Program Officer from the Liberia office spoke to approximately sixty individuals: civilians living in their home communities, displaced persons in camps and villages, and current and ex-combatants (“XCs”, which is used broadly to include anyone associated with the fighting factions, including porters, cooks, and “wives”) .  Service providers, especially those with experience from the previous disarmament process in 1996-1997, were also consulted. The primary objective of the study was to identify concerns and expectations regarding reintegration – from both the assistance and protection angles- to enable Oxfam to target future programs more effectively. In particular, Oxfam is concerned not to exacerbate existing tensions between different segments of the communities in which it works. Beyond this, however, the findings will help Oxfam to program in a more conflict-sensitive manner, and to strengthen its protection approach to humanitarian crises. II).GENERAL FINDINGS In our discussions, the term “reintegration” was not explicitly defined. 1  Most of our interviews began by asking respondents to describe how three groups of people – individuals who remained close to “home” during the conflict, the internally displaced, and former fighters (including those who served in non-combatant capacities)- might coexist once security conditions allow for large-scale return and resettlement in Liberia. What are people’s expectations? What will make the process easier? What problems are returnees, especially women, girls, and ex-combatants, likely to face? What conditions are required for reconciliation and a just peace? Although for most respondents reintegration implied a return home, a significant minority plans to resettle elsewhere. Several young ex-   Oxfam Reintegration Analysis March 2004 2 1 A 2003 DFID report exploring lessons learned from the Sierra Leone experience describes reintegration as a  process “centered around the joint involvement of XCs and the civil populace in community work, meetings and dialogue, and sporting, social, and cultural activities, and on issues of economic independence and restoration of livelihoods”. See  Report produced for DFID on Reintegration Activities in Sierra Leone:  Reintegration Lesson Learning and Impact Evaluation, Phase 2 Report  , by Simon Arthy (April 2003) on page 5. Hereafter referred to as the “DFID Report”.    combatants, especially those who cannot trace their parents, intend to remain in urban centers after disarmament. 2  Many girls and women who served as commanders’ wives will also settle apart from their families, especially if they have children themselves. Prerequisites for Return  Through focus group and individual interviews, displaced persons identified the following prerequisites to a sustainable return (listed in order of frequency mentioned):  A. Effective disarmament (100%) B. UNMIL deployment C. Material support for return * Reintegration packages – tools, seeds, pots, tarpaulin * Shelter reconstruction materials D. Free and fair elections E. Functional schools * To continue education themselves * To ensure that services are in place to occupy former combatants Every displaced person interviewed said that they would not want to return home (with their families) before combatants are disarmed .  Although many men in Bong, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties have made trips back to their farms since the New Year to plant crops, women and children have generally remained behind. Reintegration issues for Ex-combatants (“XCs” including individuals associated with the fighting forces)   1.Lessons learned from the 1996-1997 experience (shared by service providers working in Liberia at that time)  Programs aimed only at XCs divided communities and caused considerable resentment on the part of civilians who received no special assistance. Some Oxfam Reintegration Analysis March 2004 3 2  Indeed, a report by Save the Children UK notes that a quarter of the ex-combatants interviewed lived alone or shared a place with friends a few years after Liberia’s previous DDRR experience, in 1996-1997. They mainly lived in urban areas or near big companies where it was easier to find contract work. See When Children Affected By War Go Home: Lessons Learned from Liberia , by Krijn Peters (2003) on page 95-96. Hereafter referred to as the “Save UK Report”.    former fighters who received skills through such programs could not support themselves and were easily tempted to return to arms again when the opportunity arose. Although the disconnect between market needs and skills provided was largely to blame, some respondents said that communities sometimes refused to patronize the businesses run by XCs.  Skills training programs were often too short-term to ensure sustainability. Children, especially, suffered the most from the lack of long-term funding. A social worker from Don Bosco stated that children who opted for education programs tended to stay in school, but children who received vocational training did not have enough time to develop strong enough skills to provide the necessary independence to break ties with their commanders.  Commanders retained power through participating in the “ex-combatants only” programs and sometimes even served as spokesmen for community-level projects. This reinforced the existing command structure and facilitated the remobilization of former fighters.  Too little effort was made to “sensitize” communities about the importance of accepting children associated with the fighting forces (CAFF) back home. As a result many youth did not feel they could return and remained with their units for protection. The children who tried to return but faced rejection by their families – especially those involved with the Small Boys’ Unit or the Wild Geese militia – quickly rejoined the combatants when fighting resumed. 2.Community acceptance of XCs from the perspective of the civilian populace The most frequent comment expressed by civilians regarding the return of former fighters was that the success of combatants’ reintegration depended on their current behavior. If people aim to become productive members of society, the majority of respondents expressed a willingness to forgive the past, if not to forget. At the same time, many emphasized the need for “peace building activities” to assist with this process. These activities range from livelihoods projects, skills training, and schooling to encourage victims and perpetrators to work and learn together, to facilitated dialogue and peace education. Stricter drug laws to control widespread substance abuse were also mentioned as a prerequisite to peaceful coexistence. Many respondents stated that people abducted into factions by force would have an easier time to reintegrate than those who joined willingly. Oxfam Reintegration Analysis March 2004 4  
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