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NEPAL: Registration of weapons completed with UN help
Former rebels and the national army have completed registration of arms with UN help
Kathmandu - The United Nations in Nepal has completed the first phase of the arms registration process, said officials from the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which has been supervising and monitoring the arms management process in the country.
"The first phase of registration and storage of weapons has been achieved with excellent cooperation and is a significant contribution to the peace process in Nepal," said Ian Martin, who heads UNMIN.
After nearly a decade of armed conflict that killed over 14,000 people and internally displaced nearly 200,000 persons, a truce was finally reached in November 2006. One of the key agreements of the deal was the management of arms and armies on both sides.
Local human rights observers said that one of the main hurdles to Nepal's peace process - arms management - has been gradually overcome with the registration of all weapons by the military groups of both the government and former Maoist rebels.
The Maoists' People's Liberation Army (PLA) registered and stored all its 2,855 weapons in February, according to UNMIN. Under the agreement, the Nepal Army (NA) last week submitted an equal number of weapons, thus successfully completing the first phase of arms registration, said UNMIN officials.
They added that the Maoist weapons have been stored at the seven Maoist army main cantonment sites and locked in storage containers, with a complete inventory. A single lock, provided by UNMIN, secures each storage container and the keys are held by the designated main cantonment site commander.
UNMIN officials said that the government army weapons were stored in 14 large containers and all the UNMIN arms monitors were present during the registration process at Chauni Barracks in the capital. There are now 70 UNMIN monitors based in the areas with arms storage units, said Martin.
UNMIN added that the Maoists' weapons included mortars, machine guns, rifles, automatic weapons, shotguns and home-made weapons. The government's army used similar weapons, it added.
All these weapons are now stored in locked containers and the keys have been retained by the commanders of the NA and PLA, under 24-hour monitoring by the UNMIN arms monitors, together with electronic surveillance, added Martin.
The second phase of arms management will start soon and the focus will be on the registration of Maoist combatants, who number over 30,000, according to UNMIN.
Brief details of each combatant were recorded at the first stage of registration in February, but have yet to be verified. Each was photographed and issued with an identity card with a UN bar code, however, detailed information will be collected through individual interviews at the second stage of registration.
Article has been adapted from a news release issued by IRIN.