About 3,311 people, mainly women, children, and ex-associates of armed groups, gathered in the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) centers in Cameroon, are awaiting a return to civilian life.
The DDR center of Mora (Far North) alone houses about 1,600 people (684 men, 699 women, and 217 children), according to Oumar Bichaïr, the Head of the center. In Bamenda (northwest), there are 342 people in the DDR center and 369 in the Buea center in the southwest.
DDR centers are created to provide a safe social environment and prepare for the reintegration of former members of Boko Haram, which is active in the Far North region, and armed separatist groups in the Northwest and Southwest regions. "Many say they are ready to get reintegrated into civilian society but we need to consider some parameters in the first place. The conflict is still hot in the Northwest. So, we have to be very careful before taking certain decisions that can have a huge impact on the lives of these young people and the host communities," says the head of the regional DDR center in Bamenda, Henry Kum. "Our job is to teach them small trades to prepare them for integration into the community later on. And the host community is also involved in the rehabilitation process. We need to work on the ex-combatants, the host communities, and the victims," said the head of the DDR center in the Far North.
Heads of the DDR centers have, on March 22, called for increased awareness. They recently organized a three-day workshop in Yaoundé in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to discuss the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process.
"DDR is an international process that takes place in several countries. The training aimed to develop a common understanding of DDR concepts across Cameroon, because the three centers are in differently-affected locations," said IOM Cameroon Chief of Mission Abdel Rahmane Diop. IOM is working with the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (Cnddr) to build the capacity of actors in DDR centers.
Created by presidential decree on November 30, 2018, the Cnddr's mission is to de-radicalize ex-combatants and assist them back to civilian life. Its creation is part of the "constant availability" of the Head of State to seek ways and means of a "peaceful resolution" of the crises affecting Cameroon.