Efforts to disarm Sudanese ex-combatants making headway, reports UN official

18 June 2009
Ex-combatants from North and South Sudan, including women, symbolically handing over weapons

The United Nations reports that progress is being made in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of soldiers in north and south Sudan, a key component of the 2005 agreement that ended the country’s 21-year civil war.

“The Sudanese DDR programme is unique and potentially the largest and most complex ever undertaken,” Adriaan Verheul, Chief of the DDR Unit at the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), told a news conference in Khartoum today.

“Some 180,000 members of the armed forces and women who have helped the armed forces will be given the possibility to make a living as a civilian. Any child soldiers will be reunited with their families,” he added.

Mr. Verheul said that more than 5,000 soldiers have now gone through the demobilization process, which was launched in February.

The DDR process is a key component of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

Other key benchmarks of the pact include border demarcation and preparations for national elections in 2010 and a referendum on the final status of areas of Southern Sudan in 2011.

The goal of the reintegration of the soldiers is two-fold, noted Mr. Verheul. One is to provide people who have fought for their country with an exit from military life with a degree of dignity, while the other is to contribute to stability, which in itself will help generate greater trust and provides the foundation for peace and development.

“We hope that DDR would contribute to a better and more positive climate for the elections and the referendum,” he stated. “But let us start with an overall contribution to the situation on the ground.”

UNMIS is tasked with assisting the parties and the people of Sudan in fulfilling their commitments under the CPA.


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