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By the end of 2004, 103,019 combatants and individuals associated with armed groups had gone through the Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation, and Reintegration program (DDRR).[1] This represents approximately 3% of the total Liberian population.

Four percent of the surveyed adult Liberians admitted having actively taken part in the war. Among them, 116 (76%) were men and 37 (24%) were women. Most reported that they had joined the war against their will, forced by fighters (88 out of 153, 58%), or by their parents (6 out of 153, 4%). One-third (55 out of 153, 38%) indicated being minors (below 18 years old) when they joined the war. About a quarter of them (42 out of 153, 23%) stayed with armed groups for less than a year, while one in three reported spending over five years with the armed groups (49 out of 153, 35%)

In respect to the type of participation, most mentioned controlling guns and shotguns (82% and 87% respectively), and over half (67%) went into the battlefield to fight. Just 45% (n=70) went through the DDRR program.

Table 10: Participation in the War

Table 10 - Participation in the War

Perception of Former Combatants

The reintegration of former combatants in Liberia has been facilitated by benefits payments and formal or vocational training. Reintegration is typically assumed to be challenging because of the low absorptive capacity of the labor-market, and difficulties for communities to accept individuals who held some sort of power during the conflict and at times perpetrated violence.[2]

The survey data suggest that adult Liberians did not particularly stigmatize ex-combatants. Three out of four respondents indicated being generally either somewhat comfortable (25%) or comfortable (49%) in the presence of ex-combatants, with just 26% indicating discomfort. Most respondents also agreed that ex-combatants should have the same rights as anyone else (85%), and a majority (66%) were not opposed to see ex-combatants becoming town leaders. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of the population agreed with the proposition that ex-combatants should not be allowed to vote (43%), and that the presence of ex-combatants makes the area less safe (43%). These seemingly contradictory views point to the mixed views that many still hold toward former combatants.

Women on average held more negative views of ex-combatants. Roughly one-third of the women (36%) described themselves as generally uncomfortable in the presence of ex-combatants, compared to 16% of the men. Women also less frequently agreed that ex-combatants should have the same rights as everyone else, or that they should be allowed to be town leaders.

Attitudes toward ex-combatants were most negative in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount, which are counties that reported the highest level of internal displacement. In both counties, nearly half the population indicated being generally uncomfortable in the presence of ex-combatants (respectively 49% and 45%). These are also the only two counties where less than half the population believed ex-combatants should be allowed to be town leaders, and, inversely, over half the population believed ex-combatants make the town or village less safe. To a somewhat lesser extent, respondents in Rivercess mirrored these sentiments, with over a third indicating discomfort in the presence of ex-combatants (36%) and half of the population thinking they should be allowed as town leaders while they consider their presence to make the area less safe (50% and 49%, respectively). Conversely, residents of Nimba and Grand Gedeh agreed least with the idea that ex-combatants made their towns less safe (33% and 32%). A possible reason for this pattern lies in the course of the civil wars, in particular the final years of the second one. Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, and Rivercess saw arguably the most extreme back-and-forth between Taylor’s forces and LURD in the west, and MODEL in the east. Interviews with key informants in these areas have shown that the exact frontline between the groups often stretched over large areas, with both sides staging indiscriminate burn-and-run attacks against villages outside their area of control, trying to punish villagers suspected of supporting the other side, and attempting to find and kill fighters hidden in a village, to show force and ruthlessness to the other side, to replenish food stocks, or simply to break the frustration of entrenchment.[3]

Table 11: Perception of Former Combatants

Table 11 - Perception of Former Combatants

[1] DDRR Consolidated Report Phase 1, 2 & 3. National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and  Reintegration (NCDDRR). p.1. January 16, 2005. Retrieved from,2,3... ; and UNDP Liberia Country Programme 2004-2007 – Terminal Evaluation Final Report. September, 2009. p.20. Retrieved from

[2] See among others, Morten Bøåsa, Anne Hatløy, ‘Getting in, getting out’: militia membership and prospects for re-integration in post-war Liberia, The Journal of Modern African Studies (2008), 46: 33-55.

[3] Civilians in Rivercess tried to flee many towns reported to have been attacked regularly by both sides, since neither force was able to capture the area but wanted to scare the other or punish villages for supposedly helping the opposite side. For an illustration of this particular type of warfare during course of the LURD campaign in the west, see Brabazon (2010).