UN envoy hails South Sudan demobilisation


Nearly 2500 ex-combatants from the decades-long civil war in southern Sudan have been demobilised in a recently-begun programme.

Ashraf Qazi, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Sudan, says that the ex-soldiers are on their way back to civilian life through the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme that was launched this past February.

Addressing the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Coordination Council (NDDRCC) in Khartoum on Tuesday, Qazi praised the quick progress in the programme, which is called for by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which in 2005 ended the 22-year conflict between the national Government and rebels.

Noting that the demobilisations that have been carried out so far occurred in Blue Nile state, he added that the Government of Southern Sudan, working in coordination with the UN, has agreed to a concept of operations for the demobilization of up to 35 000 individuals due to begin in early June 2009 in Juba, the capital of the region, the UN News Service adds.  

Qazi, who heads the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), also emphasized the need for adequate and timely funding for what he called “one the most complex and largest DDR operations of its kind in the world.”

The UN budget committee in New York has agreed to triple UNMIS resources for DDR operations, he said, calling on the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan to make available the human and financial resources necessary to effectively lead the process.

He expressed deep appreciation of pledges made by donors at the DDR Roundtable Conference held in Juba on February 16 that amount to about $88 million.

However, he stressed, the programme was still facing a shortfall, with assistance to 35 000 special needs ex-combatants and 30 000 others requiring some $135 million in total.