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Somalia: UN development agency helps former militia to promote civil protection

Somalia: UN development agency helps former militia to promote civil protection

A Somalian police training school supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has welcomed 350 new recruits - many of whom are former militia members - to begin training as part of a larger programme to improve the police force countrywide, the UN agency said today.

"These young men are dedicated," said Luca Rajola, chief technical advisor for the law enforcement component of the UNDP Somali civil protection programme. "They are interested in learning new skills and will raise even further the professional standards of the police force."

The four-month programme, which began yesterday in the Somaliland town of Mandera, gives the former militia an opportunity to get back to work in a productive way, Mr. Rajola said. "Before the civil war, Somali police were regarded as some of the best in Africa. We are glad to help them reach that high standard once again."

The new class includes about 300 police recruits and 50 prison guards. They will learn the penal code and how to incorporate respect for human rights and the rights of women in their work. The course also provides exercises in riot and traffic control. Specialized groups will train to work at the airport and seaport, and in border control and drug traffic control. Some will become police trainers for future classes.

There are currently about 5,000 police in Somaliland, but around 1,000 are expected to retire soon. The new recruits being trained this year will replace them, UNDP said.

The UNDP Somali Civil Protection Programme is aimed at supporting law enforcement, the judiciary, demobilization of militias and landmine clearance. Italy, Sweden, the United States, a Canadian non-governmental organization, and several other donors provide funding.