Disqualified, a short documentary directed by German, first-time filmmakers Jana Nolle and Stella Jung, shows the state of 42 discharged combatants (nine of them women) living in a Maoist-rented four bedroom house in Dhangadi. Local NGOs and relatives provide food and other essentials.
"They're just there waiting," Nolle says. "They're perpetrators and victims at the same time, instruments of the Maoist party."
The directors interviewed on camera 12 residents with official discharged status, UN Interagency Rehabilitation Program advisor Desmond Molloy, psychosocial counselor Ramesh Basnet and Hari Jawali, a Maoist district officer.
"There's shame involved," explains Jung. "They prefer not to return to their villages where others have jobs or are married. The Maoists devolve all responsibility to the government. It's as if the Maoists are saying 'the UN disqualified you, so you go to the UN to get support', so they're hopeless."
UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) expelled 4,008 former combatants from Maoist cantonments, officially dubbed Verified Minors Late Recruits (VMLRs) on a twofold criteria: those under the age of 18 at the time of recruitment, or those who joined after the first ceasefire on 26 May 2006.
As consolation, VMLRs were given discharged cards and the opportunity to enroll in vocational training programs.
But according to a Saferworld report in November 2010, the programs were undermined by a lack of decentralisation in service delivery, which discouraged VMLRs to travel long distances. The UN's humanitarian appeal to rehabilitate VMLRs also lacked an initial labour market analysis as well as a socio-economic profile, which the Maoists forbade.
"The whole motivation for the UN interagency rehabilitation program for VMLRs was humanitarian," Molloy says in the film. "A group of young people who partly deprived of their youth and education helped to get them back into their community to avoid that they become part of armed gangs. In this particular group (in Dhangadi), there has been a strong disincentive to avail the opportunities offered to them coupled with the fact that it's way below their expectations that they may have had when they joined the Maoist army."
|• 19,000 combatants qualified for reintegration, currently in cantonments|
|• 4,008 discharged VMLRs|
|• Of the 4,008, 2,000 participated in UN rehabilitation programs|
|• Of those who didn't 540 live in Maoist-supported venues|
Questions remain unanswered: Are the Maoists housing the VMLRs as leverage if reintegration fails? Are VMLRs merely collateral to the success of the peace process? In a film clip, Anup, a VMLR, appears restless: "No one can stay indoors now. We've been inside all this time, and even the ministers have been indoors. This isn't the time to be indoors."
The making of Disqualified