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Sudan demobilizes 2254 former eastern Sudan rebels

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April 1, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — In a joint effort undertaken by Sudanese government and the UNDP, started on April 1, the second phase of demobilization programme in eastern Sudan for 2,254 ex-combatants in Kassala.

The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process in Eastern Sudan is part of a peace agreement signed in October 2006 between the Sudanese government and the former rebel Eastern Front.

Besides the Sudanese government, Canada, along with the United Kingdom, the European Commission, Norway, Italy and UNDP have provided approximately $6 million in support of the second phase of the project, which requires $10 million in voluntary contributions.

"After demobilizing and reintegrating 1,700 ex-combatants from the Eastern Front, the Government, as part of the second phase of DDR, is now demobilizing 2,254 combatants from SAF and PDF", said North Sudan DDR Commissioner, Sulafeldeen Salih, during a ceremony held on the occasion.

The official ceremony was attended by senior governmental officials, representatives of North Sudan DDR Commission, Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Popular Defense Forces (PDF), Eastern Front, donor countries, and UN officials.

Eastern Sudan DDR is carried out under UNDP’s Support to Human Security Project. During its first phase (2007-2008), the project also succeeded in registering demobilized combatants, and providing them with several services including medical screening, food and clothing packages, and financial support.

In a joint reintegration effort, NSDDRC, UNDP, Food Agriculture Organization, and national NGOs, 1,251 ex-combatants were trained on veterinary and basic business management skills. They were also provided with goats, sheep and commodities to help them start up small businesses.

UNDP Country Director, Jerzy Skuratowicz stressed that the DDR is the "backbone of consolidating any peace agreement. Without successful reintegration of former fighters, sustainable peace, and accompanying social and economic development will not be possible."

(ST)

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