France gives UNDP 1 million euro for disarmament

France agreed on Thursday to give the UN Development Programme (UNDP) one million euros (US $1.05 million) towards the disarmament and demobilisation process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

French Ambassador Georges Serre and UNDP Deputy Representative Kwafu Abrefa signed the grant agreement on Thursday in the DRC capital, Kinshasa.

The UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, is to implement the disarmament and demobilisation process, which includes the repatriation and reintegration of ex-fighters into society. MONUC Deputy Spokesman Mounoubayi Madnodje told IRIN that 200,000 euros would be immediately available to the mission for its demobilisation reception centre in Lubero, South Kivu Province, which opened in December 2002.

The UN estimates there are 13,000 foreign fighters in the country. "There are about 12,000 Rwandans, the Ugandans are not numerous and the rest are Burundians," Madnodje said.

The UN has already repatriated 750 Rwandan ex-fighters since the demobilisation process began. On Tuesday, South Africa, which is verifying the implementation of the DRC-Rwanda peace accord, repatriated 35 other Rwandans from villages close to the eastern DRC city of Bukavu, South Kivu.