Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ex-combatants from Sudan's north and south symbolically relinquish their weapons in return for a DDR I.D. card, cash, non-food items & food rations

From 12 Feb 2009
Woman fighter first in line in Sudan’s UN-backed demobilization programme
A woman was the first ex-combatant to be demobilized in this week’s historic launch of a United Nations-backed programme aimed at coaxing 180,000 ex-fighters from Sudan’s two-decades long north-south civil war back into civilian life.

Fatima, a former member of the People’s Defence Forces, was first in line when 15 ex-combatants, including four other women, stepped forward yesterday in Ed Damazin in Blue Nile State at the start of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme, a significant stage in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 that ended a war, in which at least 2 million people died and 4.5 million others were forced from their homes.

Up to 25 per cent of all DDR candidates in Blue Nile State are women and the Joint Commission and integrated UN DDR unit expects to receive about 900 women from the Damazine area in the coming three months.

“The inclusion of women in the 10 February launch reflects the commitment of both Commissions (north and south) and the UN family to ensure that women, as well as men, equally benefit from the DDR process,” the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said in a news release.

“Women played key roles in armed groups throughout Sudan during the conflict, both as active combatants and in roles providing essential support to soldiers from all parties,” it added.

During the ceremony, ex-combatants from the north and south symbolically relinquished their weapons and in return received a DDR identification card, cash, non-food items and a coupon for food rations provided by the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

Congratulating the Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan on the occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Deputy Special Representative Ameerah Haq voiced confidence that the north and south DDR commissions were determined to make the programme succeed despite problems in securing funding and meeting the needs of ex-combatants in the South.

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