Official: Demobilization Efforts To Continue

The World Bank will continue to fund the demobilization effort de­spite earlier statements from Prime Minister Hun Sen that the in­­ternational financing and aid agency was withholding funds, according to a government official.

The official, who declined to be identified, spoke Tuesday after of­fi­cials from the government and the World Bank met to discuss the demobilization effort.

“The World Bank has agreed to continue the demobilization pro­ject,” the official said. “The discussion was good.”

The official did not say how much money the World Bank pledged for the continuing demobilization effort.

Last week, Hun Sen blamed the World Bank for the stalled de­mobilization process, which was scheduled to have completely de­mobilized 15,000 soldiers by the end of 2001 and another 15,000 by the end of 2002.

During a ceremony on Sept 2 in Banteay Srei district, Siem Reap province, Hun Sen said the government was ready to demo­bi­lize an estimated 15,000 soldiers but the World Bank would not fund the effort. World Bank of­ficial Gillian Brown said at the time that the World Bank was fully prepared to release the funds once the government asked for them.

Tuesday’s meeting between Council of Ministers Undersec­re­tary of State Svay Sitha and World Bank official Ian Porter ap­peared to have solved the im­passe.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Porter stated that the World Bank is con­tinuing to support the demo­bi­lization program while Svay Sitha stated that the government was continuing to help the 15,000 soldiers who have already transferred to civilian life to ensure they receive the benefits pro­mised to them by the government.

The government promised demobilized soldiers that they would receive $240 as well as  building materials, clothes and motorcycles or sewing machines. Only 1,500 soldiers have received the full severance package so far.


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