From cantonment to careers

03 Jun 2010

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More than 803 young Nepali men and women have opted for voluntary rehabilitation packages that are being offered by the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) under the auspices of the Government of Nepal. 

Over 408 have already started training in regional centres or studying in schools close to home. 

The rehabilitation packages are offered to 4,008 former Maoist army personnel who were disqualified during the UN-led verification process in 2007. 

In January-February 2010, there were 2,394 personnel officially discharged from the seven cantonments across Nepal with technical and logistical support from UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA. On 23 March 2010, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist declared the remaining 1,614 officially discharged from Maoist army chain of command.

Under the rehabilitation programme, four sectoral packages have been designed which include vocational skills training, micro-enterprise development, health related training and education. The dischargees are eligible to sign up for rehabilitation packages for up-to 12 months. Funds for the rehabilitation are provided by the UN Peace Fund for Nepal, which is supported by the Government of Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland and also the UN Peace Fund.

A toll-free number that operates six days a week and is accessible across the country was established for the dischargees to contact the UN about the rehabilitation packages. Until now, 803 dischargees have been referred to the Service Providers that provide training and learning at the regional and local levels; and 408 participants have begun their training or enrolled in school, 29% of them women. (Women made up 30% of the 4,008 personnel disqualified in 2007).

Ashutosh, 20, one of the trainees under vocational skills training programme says he is happy with the course he is receiving in driving and light mechanics . He recalls joining the Maoists army when he was 14-15 and spent most of his time in the jungle. He did not like living in the cantonments in the beginning but he was sad to leave his friends behind when he was sent from cantonment as disqualified. However, he shows no signs of anger and is starting to look into the future. "After the training I'll try to find work, if it does not work then probably I will go overseas."

UNDP Country Director Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau says, "we are encouraged to see trainees like Ashutosh looking at new life options with the packages UNDP is offering. We are working hard to facilitate more people enroll in these sectoral packages. Rehabilitation is an important step forward in Nepal's peace process."