UN hails return of 15 000 former civil war soldiers in Sudan

The top United Nations envoy to Sudan has praised the disarming, demobilization and reintegration so far this year of over 15 000 former combatants from the African nation’s north-south civil war.
It is hoped that as many as 180 000 ex-combatants across Sudan will return to civilian life under the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) scheme that was launched in February as part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the war.
“The momentum built up thus far is impressive and continues to grow as new sites will become operational in the Three Areas and Southern Sudan,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan Ashraf Jehangir Qazi told a gathering of partners involved in implementing the DDR.
The DDR process “has given hope to ex-combatants and their communities as they see something concrete being done to promote peace,” said Qazi, adding that the UN has started to work with its Sudanese partners to extend DDR operations.
Qazi, who also heads the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), stressed that the return to society of former fighters from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Popular Defence Forces and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was “critical to creating a conducive environment for the upcoming elections.”
Highlighting a funding shortfall faced by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in their efforts to demobilize child soldiers, Qazi that it is “important we regain momentum on the release and reintegration of children associated with armed forces to prevent children from returning to life in the barracks.”
At the partnership meeting, held in the Sudanese city of Kadugli, the representative from Norway announced an additional pledge of around $5 million to support adult and child DDR.
Demobilized combatants are provided with opportunities for alternative livelihoods in agriculture, micro-businesses, vocational training or formal education.
The North and South Sudan DDR Commissions implement the programme with support from the Integrated UN DDR Unit, comprised of UNMIS, the UN Development Programme, UNICEF, the WFP and the UN Population Fund.

Pic: South Sudan forces