7 February 2012 – To give South Sudanese ex-soldiers a boost in returning to civilian life, UNMISS and the government’s disarmament commission launched the construction of a training facility in Mapel, Western Bahr El-Ghazal State, today.
To be built on a 1.2-kilometre-square piece of land donated by the state government, the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Transitional Facility will train former combatants in livelihood skills and offer opportunities to enter the job market.
“This facility is very crucial for our people, who sacrificed their lives for this country,” said Acting South Sudan DDR Commissioner Major Machar Mayor, adding that it would accelerate socio-economic development for both ex-combatants and the local community.
Mapel Executive Chief Uyu Ngor assured the gathering that the community would support the project. “As we offered land for the process (DDR), we shall also support the process.”
Mapel Payam Administrator Bourjuok Ucho said the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) had expressed a strong commitment to keep the area safe in ensuring the facility’s success.
The UNMISS Chinese Engineering Company are building the facility, which will contain offices, registration and counselling rooms, accommodation, dining and assembly areas, classrooms and recreation facilities. The first group of 500 ex-combatants are expected to arrive at the project site in April.
“The ex-combatants will receive various training and (develop) skills for a period of three months, starting from 1 April 2012,” UNMISS DDR Deputy Chief Khaled Mustafa said, reaffirming UNMISS support in assisting the government to resize the army and organized forces.
Programmes envisioned for ex-combatants at the facility include formal briefings about the DDR programme and psychosocial counselling as well as basic literacy, business, vocational and life-skills training.
Participants will also take part in labour- intensive work, such as developing or maintaining critical infrastructure in the immediate facility area. These reinsertion projects, funded by UNMISS and implemented by the UN Development Programme, will provide wage-earning jobs for both ex-combatants and community members.
Commissioner Major noted that the DDR Commission had identified two other areas for a like DDR process – a yet-to-be-determined town in Jonglei Sate to cover the greater Upper Nile region and Torit for the greater Equatoria states.
Mary Valentino, a women’s representative from Mapel, expressed delight in the project. “We shall soon see the presence of other developmental organizations (in Mapel) and a chance to involve in developmental programmes.”
Speaking for Mapel youth, Joseph Ungom said, “As youth are the backbone of every society, we shall try our best to support this DDR process to make it a success.”