DDR is a government priority, official says

13 May 2013

DDR is a government priority, official says

13 May 2013 – As security reform was a priority of the South Sudanese government, austerity measures had not affected disarmament programmes, a senior government official said in Juba today.

Speaking to journalists at a press conference, South Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Commission Chairperson William Deng Deng said the government had made significant financial contributions to the process at the height of the country's economic woes.

"Security is an important pillar of nation building and the government demonstrated this by committing four million South Sudanese Pounds," he said. "We expect to right-size the army by 2017."

Mr. Deng said the pilot DDR programme, which had begun at the Mapel DDR Transitional Facility in Western Bahr El-Ghazal in April, was steadily progressing. The programme is spearheaded by the National DDR Council, now headed by President Salva Kiir.

He revealed that 190 ex-combatants from the Greater Bahr El-Ghazal region were currently undergoing training in different skills. More were expected to join until 31 May, when registration for the first caseload would end.

"Due to the weather, terrain and other logistical challenges, it has been difficult to get all 500 ex-combatants that we had targeted for the pilot," he said.

UNMISS was supporting the programme with construction as well as transportation of staff and training materials. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was supporting the teaching programme, UNICEF was working with the Child DDR programme and the UN Development Programme was a key partner in reintegration.

The new DDR programme is targeting 150,000 ex-combatants from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and other organized forces over the next eight years. The DDR candidates will all receive training in different practical skills for three months to prepare them for transformation to civilian life.

"This programme is significantly different from the DDR of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) period," said Mr. Deng. "The policy has been completely rewritten to reflect the reality in South Sudan as an independent nation."

He noted that DDR candidates would continue to receive wages for a year, even as they underwent vocational training and support in their communities after reintegration, whereas during the CPA DDR, candidates only received a one-time "package".

Mr. Deng said it was the lack of such support that had led to reports of ex-combatants rejoining the army after the CPA DDR programme.

"I must note, though, that the programme was still a successful one and one from which lessons were used in developing the new policy,' he said.

Some 12, 5252 DDR candidates in Southern Sudan were disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated during this period.

DDR Commission Deputy Chairperson Majur Machar pointed out that the DDR process was different from civilian disarmament, with which it was regularly confused.

"Civilian disarmament is the removing of surplus unlicensed guns from communities and comes under a separate government bureau, the Community Security and Small Arms Control," he said. "The DDR programme deals specifically with the organized forces."