Monday, July 5, 2010

Darfur / Former combatants lay down arms

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, July 5, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)

More than 800 former combatants are expected to take part in a three-week voluntary discharge exercise that begins today in El Geneina, West Darfur.

The exercise, involving ex-combatants from the parties to the conflict, is scheduled to run for two weeks.

While the event is part of the Government’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme, UNAMID is assisting by providing logistical support, including security, transport, HIV/AIDS counseling and health screening.

The programme, established following an agreement with the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signatories, largely provides financial assistance and other incentives to those former combatants who agree to be discharged. The Government is providing an initial cash payment to each participant, which will be followed by other benefits at a later date.

This is the third exercise of its kind held in the region. The first, held in El Fasher, North Darfur, in November 2009, resulted in more than 300 former combatants taking part and a second, held in Nyala, South Darfur, saw approximately 1,100 participants.

The programme is to continue in other parts of Darfur, targeting a total of 5,000 former combatants affiliated with signatories to the DPA who were disarmed in July 2008 when they formally surrendered their weapons to the Government.

UNAMID remains committed to efforts that strengthen the peace process and improve the overall security situation across the region.

SOURCE: United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)