Disarmed youths in Akobo County want to join security forces

26 Mar 2012

Disarmed youths in Akobo County want to join security forces

25 March 2012 – Some youths from the Akobo County payam of Walgak in Jonglei State told a visiting UNMISS integrated monitoring team today of their wish to join government security forces after handing in their weapons.

Residents of the payam have surrendered only 41 weapons since the statewide civilian disarmament campaign began in Walgak on 19 March, according to Col. Alier Chuyt of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

"There are still more arms here," said Col. Chuyt, adding that AKM assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were among the weapons that have been collected to date in Walgak and environs during the voluntary phase of the exercise.

"We are going to disarm them, even those who have travelled to Ethiopia will be disarmed."

Diu Deng Lam said he cooperated with previous disarmament exercises in 2006 and 2010 but later exchanged two cows for a gun because government security forces failed to adequately protect his community from recurring attacks.

Having turned in his firearm for a third time, Mr. Lam said he now wants to enlist in the SPLA or some other security force of the South Sudanese government. "I will not buy a gun again but (will) rely on the government to disarm everybody and protect us", said the 30-year-old father of six children.

"We the youth here can now use guns positively by joining the SPLA, the SSPS (South Sudan Police Service) and other groups not just to protect our people but to also earn a living," he added.

Col. Chuyt said he was aware of the disarmed youths' interest in joining government security forces but was not in a position to make any pronouncement about their eligibility.

''We have heard their request and appreciate their interest to join the army," said the SPLA commander in charge of the disarmament campaign in Walgak. "Whether or not they will be recruited, the government will decide later. Now is the time to disarm."

The colonel also gave assurances that the SPLA would remain in Walgak until all potential sources of instability and violence had been neutralized.

"We will not leave these areas until we are sure there is no insecurity here," he said "If it requires four years or more, we will stay here",

The acting executive director of Walgak payam Thomas Gatmac Geak said that chiefs and legislators had fanned out across the cattle grazing areas of the payam to receive weapons and would deliver the guns on 27 March.

The firearms that have been handed over thus far were moved to the Jonglei town of Waat in neighboring Nyirol County for safe storage, according to Col. Chuyt.