Frank Pearl, the High Commissioner for Peace and Reintegration said
Tuesday that he hoped to have 2,000 demobilized paramilitaries
‘graduate’ from the State’s reintegration program by the end of 2009.
He said that a new system was about to be implemented, which he hoped would achieve the reintegration of 1,500 to 2,000 more demobilized paramilitaries this year.
The High Commissioner said that of the 50,000 who demobilized 9.2 percent had been reintegrated. He said 2,000 had been rejected from the program for not truly belonging to illegal groups, 4,500 had return to crime — 2,200 of whom had been arrested– and another 1,200 had died.
In response of Coalition Senator Armando Benedetti’s allegations of ‘squandering’ money, Pearl said that with 30,000 demobilized men and their families to care for, a larger budget was necessary. He said the European Union had contributed 5.5 million euros and that the U.S. government had promised US$50 million.
He said that between October 2007 and March 2009 there were 3,803 job offers to the demobilized population, which eventuated in 880 positions filled. The High Commissioner said that the others were not filled because “the rest weren’t ready [to enter the workforce]”.
He called on private businesses to have faith and generate employment for the demobilized, saying “remember we have filters and mechanisms to ensure their interests are preserved”.