World Bank Set to Continue Demobilization

The World Bank is set to start delivering aid packages to more than 15,000 demobilized soldiers to­day, a World Bank official said on Tuesday.

The soldiers, who have waited more than a year to receive their full severance packages, will be­gin to receive sewing machines today and motorcycles in Janu­ary, said Gillian Brown, the de­mobilization project task manager.

The 15,000 demobilized soldiers, who are part of a $42 million project to transfer military personnel to civilian life, are the first group to leave the military. Anoth­er 15,000 soldiers are set to begin demobilization in early 2003.

It is the next batch of soldiers, however, which have caused the World Bank and the government the most difficulty, Brown said. While the first group of soldiers was relatively easy to identify, the se­cond batch poses problems be­cause a number of them still need to be verified as actually having served in the military.

In October, opposition member Son Chhay alleged that the government’s list of soldiers to be demobilized contained “ghost soldiers” who did not exist or are deceased. A report on the World Bank Web site agreed somewhat with Son Chhay’s accusations, saying that some soldiers in the government’s database have never served in the armed forces.

Because of this, Brown said on Tuesday that the World Bank has constructed several safeguard measures that will weed out the possibility of fake soldiers. One of those safeguards includes bringing in members from civil society to check the lists of soldiers to be demobilized as well as safety checks from the government’s demobilization team, the Council for the Demobilization of Armed Forces.

The council is headed by Council of Minister’s head, Sok An, and its secretary-general, Svay Sitha, who also serves as secretary of state for the Council of Minis­ters and secretariat of the Cambo­dia Veterans Assistance Project.


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