Leaving a Fighting Life Behind, the Ex-Fighters Enjoying Reunion with their Families and Friends

UNDP Afghanistan / APRP: Ex-combatants from the eastern provinces renounce violence and resume a respectful life with their families.

Since early 2013, close to 700 combatants have surrendered their weapons and reintegrated with their families and communities in eastern provinces of Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar and Nuristan as a result of concerted efforts of a number of state agencies, including the provincial offices of the High Peace Council and National Directorate of Security, with technical support from UNDP’s Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP).

The APRP-sponsored peace messages on radios and televisions at local and national levels have played a key role in enticing the fighters to renounce violence and resume a respectful life with their families. According to the ex-combatants from the eastern provinces, they came into contact with the High Peace Council’s provincial and district offices and expressed their will to join the peace process. Upon reintegrating, they were granted immunity from prosecution due to their past involvement in insurgency and promised a decent livelihood in their communities. They’ve also received a one-time financial assistance package.

Highlights

  • Early 2013, close to 700 combatants have surrendered their weapons and reintegrated with their families and communities in eastern provinces of Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar and Nuristan.
  • According to 54-year-old Sayed Hassan, an ex-combatant from Nangarhar province, it was no longer tolerable for them to see the growing poverty and worst life conditions of their district’s residents.
  • The APRP-sponsored peace messages on radios and televisions at local and national levels have played a key role in enticing the fighters to renounce violence and resume a respectful life with their families.
  • While in conflict, the ex-fighters found their lives too boring and they so much wished to reunite with their families one day.
  • UNDP’s APRP has been looking into employment opportunities for them and round 125 of the ex-fighters have been recruited as foremen, guards and labourers with the Road Maintenance Corps Project, which guarantees them employment for over seven months.

While in conflict, the ex-fighters found their lives too boring and they so much wished to reunite with their families one day, cited as major reasons shared by most of the previous combatants. Accepting all the drawbacks of joining the peace process, such as threats from their previous armed comrades, nevertheless they decided to quit. “Despite death threats from the armed groups, I didn’t back out,” said Abdul Manan Muslimyar, 38, an ex-combatant from Kunar province. “We could see that schools were shut at our district and our struggle had no religious ground. Our commanders just misused our potential.” According to 54-year-old Sayed Hassan, an ex-combatant from Nangarhar province, it was no longer tolerable for them to see the growing poverty and worst life conditions of their district’s residents.

At a donor’s meeting in Nangarhar in early November 2014, where representatives from donors nations and partners including Australia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, International Security Assistance Force, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the provincial government were in attendance, the Governor of Nangarhar province and Second Deputy of the HPC praised the achievements of the peace process in his province and added, “I call on the neighboring countries as well as the international community to support the peace process in Afghanistan.” He particularly emphasized on the continuation of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Project.

The donors’ representatives at the meeting expressed their satisfaction with the APRP performance and vowed future support to the initiative. “We appreciate the answers of many questions about APRP; now we understood the ground reality,” said Mr. Pickford from the Embassy of the United Kingdom in his speech at the meeting. “We look forward to working for peace and stability in this country and are ready to support any initiative taken in this regard.”

In addition to the financial assistance the ex-fighters received upon their return, UNDP’s Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme has been looking into employment opportunities for them at various UNDP, Afghan government and other agencies’ development projects so that they can earn a decent living in their communities. Around 125 of the ex-fighters have been recruited as foremen, guards and labourers with the Road Maintenance Corps Project, which guarantees them employment for over seven months.

Most of these ex-combatants now enjoy seeing their sons and daughters go to school. They have access to news and entertainment on TV and radio and most importantly, employment and sources of income for them to regain a constructive role in society.

APRP is a UNDP programme that works with the High Peace Council to encourage current combatants to renounce violence, return to their communities and begin a new and respectful life with their families.

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