[Dateline: New York | Author: DPKO]
The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Programme in Sudan was jointly launched Tuesday, 10 February by the North and South Sudan DDR Commissions in the town of Ed Damazin, in the Blue Nile State, with the assistance of the United Nations, through an integrated UN DDR unit that comprises the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO).
The ceremony to mark this key milestone in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was attended by senior Sudanese Government officials and high-level representatives from the United Nations and diplomatic corps. Each ex-combatant received a $400 cash allowance, a non-food items kit and a WFP food voucher. Their reintegration program is expected to start in four to six months.
About 5,000 combatants from both the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) will be demobilized in Blue Nile State alone, over a period of one year. The initial phase of the operation in Ed Damazin is expected to demobilize close to 700 eligible combatants from the two armies within a month.
Officiating at the launching ceremony, the Minister for International Cooperation in the Government of National Unity, Prof. Ilyas congratulated the two DDR Commissions on their excellent cooperation and urged the donor community to contribute generously to the reintegration programme.
Also speaking at the launch, the Deputy Special Representative of Secretary-General (DSRSG), Ameerah Haq, described the event as "a key milestone in the implementation of the CPA," noting too, that Sudan's DDR programme was the largest yet worldwide. Among the challenges to the DDR venture in Sudan, the DSRSG stressed the need to reinforce national ownership of the process and to mobilize support from the donor community.
The launching of the DDR pilot programme in one of the "Three Areas" – which comprise the Blue Nile State, South Kordofan and Abyei – is widely seen as a significant confidence-building measure between the two parties of the CPA. All stakeholders in the peace process hope that this positive collaboration could assist the parties to achieve other crucial CPA benchmarks in the coming year.
Preparations are underway to start demobilization in South Kordofan in the weeks ahead, alongside the operation in Blue Nile State. However, in order to further support the DDR exercise in Sudan, additional funding from donors and the Sudanese Government will be needed. So far, only Japan ($ 17 million) and Italy (€ 3 million) have provided funding to the Sudan DDR programme, which will require $ 430 million over four years.
A total of 180,000 participants from North and Southern Sudan stand to benefit from DDR by leaving military life and reintegrating into society. The DDR programme is operationally managed by the North Sudan and South Sudan DDR Commissions, with technical and logistical support from the Integrated United Nations DDR Unit.
DDR is a key part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which was signed on 9 January 2005 by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army. The CPA ended the longest civil war in Africa.