South Sudan graduates Ex-Combatants in Mapel

19 Sep 2013

South Sudan graduates Ex-Combatants in Mapel

18 September 2013 – Two hundred and ninety ex-combatants attended a graduation ceremony today at the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Training Center in Mapel, Western Bahr El-Ghazal State after completing intensive three-month vocational training courses.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit headed a government delegation that included cabinet ministers, Western Bahr El-Ghazal state governor Riziq Zakaria Hassan, senior SPLA officers and members of the National DDR Commission.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for South Sudan Hilde F. Johnson also attended the ceremony, which marked the conclusion of the first pilot phase to be held under the auspices of the new DDR programme in South Sudan.

"Today is a remarkable day in our new nation," said President Kiir. "It is the liberators who have been disarmed, demobilized and trained. "

The ex-combatants were drawn from Lakes, Warrap, Northern Bahr El-Ghazal and Western Bahr El-Ghazal states and included 18 women. They received training in a variety of fields designed to ease their transition to civilian life, and the course subjects ranged from electricity, auto mechanics and English literacy to plumbing, construction and agriculture.

"I can now build a house of different apartments," said Elizabeth Emilio Ufo, a female ex-combatant who completed the construction skills course and eventually wants to form an association of builders.

SRSG Johnson hailed the successful completion of the pilot phase and formally handed over to government officials a number of facilities built by local communities with assistance from UNMISS. These include an administration office for the Mapel payam, a police station, a catering center and seven wells with potable water.

"DDRis essential for the future of South Sudan," said Ms. Johnson. "What makes a DDR succeed? Onlywhen the key stakeholders are the drivers of the process."

The SRSGreaffirmed the mission's commitment to continue its support for the DDR programme.

In the coming months, similar DDR vocational skills programmes are scheduled to get underway for ex-combatants living in states belonging to the greater Upper Nile and Equatoria regions of South Sudan. President Kiir pledged to support each of these programmes with a donation of $1.5 million US dollars.

The UNMISS Chinese Engineering Contingent supported the construction of buildings at the training center site, and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation provided much of the design, development and provision of the vocational training courses.