A World Bank evaluation has noted serious problems in the $42 million donor-driven
demobilization program. Some of those flagged for demobilization were 'ghost' soldiers,
while genuine soldiers who wanted to leave were paying their commanders to get on
the list for the second phase. Additionally, none of those stood down in the first
phase had as yet received their reintegration packages.
"There is a growing body of evidence, including the findings of several field
visits by Bank missions, that suggests ... some of those on the database have never
served in the armed forces or received salaries from the military, and others have
served in the armed forces but do not receive their whole salaries," the report
The admission came in a summary of mission findings published for an October 22 meeting
between World Bank officials and the Council for the Demobilization of Armed Forces
(CDAF), the government body that oversees the demobilization program.
Critics of the program, which is mainly funded by foreign donors, have frequently
accused military officers of padding the lists of those under their command, allowing
them to pocket the initial $240 severance paid to each demobilized soldier.
The Post understands that donors have not been able to cross-check the database used
by CDAF with that used by the Ministry of Defense. The report seems to confirm this,
noting that it was "not possible to make any further independent or definitive
check of the extent of this issue".
The World Bank's team leader, Gillian Brown, said proper implementation of the program
was vital if it was to achieve its broader aims.
"This is the essential piece to ensure that the project achieves what it is
supposed to: transferring funds that had been used for military expenditures towards
much-needed social spending, and helping demobilized soldiers and their families
lead more productive lives," she told the Post.
Opposition MP Son Chhay, a frequent critic of the demobilization program, applauded
the report for recognizing corruption.
"I'm glad they know they made mistakes but what they're going to do about it
is another question," he said. "The whole process has to be revised and
The Bank called for better communication to make the nature of the demobilization
program clear, and said the non-political nature of the scheme should be stressed
particularly given the general election scheduled for July 27, 2003.
"As this is an election year," it stated, "the communications strategy
should also include a campaign to explain that the project is funded by donors for
the people of Cambodia and is not linked to any political party."
CDAF head Svay Sitha said he could not comment until he had spoken to his superiors.