From their own words: An explorative qualitative study on the experience of combatants disabled in the Liberian civil war,1989-2003
Aim:To explore the experience of fighters disabled during the Liberian civil war; what they did and what was done to them; and what happened after their demobilization.
Methods:Six focus group discussions were organized in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, with 50 invalid veterans aged 10 to 25 at their entrance into the war and eightwomen wounded, although civilians, sampled as in convenience. In addition,sevenkey-informant interviews took place. All encounters were agreeably taped, transcribed and summarized under the items of the discussion guide.
Results:Most ex-combatants joined the fighting to protect themselves and their families who were targeted by rebel fighters or joined to revenge the killing of close family members by fighters from all sides including government soldiers. Nearly all the former fighters interviewed expressed their desire to be trained in various areas of life skills. A vast majority of the ex-combatants are living from begging in the streets.Those from factions feel that government cares for former regular soldiers and discriminates those from other warring factions. The lack of housing for ex-combatants with war related infirmities is of paramount concern to them. They feel that the post-war reintegration program did not achieve its objectives. In the communities, they are stigmatized, blamed as the ones who brought suffering to their own people. The key informants are calling for establishment of trust fund for survivors of the civil war who are disabled.
Recommendations: Establishment of a trust fund for survivors of the civil war who are disabled; reform of the National Bureau of Veteran Affairs to include the disabled ex-combatants of all former warring factions; erection as planned of the proposed Veterans Hospital; a national census of disabled ex-combatants and war victims.
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