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Reintegration of armed elements in Yambio, South Sudan

By Aidan Azairwe | Project Director, Jesuit Refugee Service

Verastream integrating puzzle piecesYambio, South Sudan

There has been much anticipation and anxiety to the reintegration of armed elements (surrendered armed groups and individuals) largely from South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM), South Sudan People's Patriotic Front (SSPPF), Sudan People's Liberation Army -In Opposition (SPLA-IO) into national organized forces.

From last year, the state of Gbudue-Yambio has extended the government's amnesty to all armed groups and individuals willing to return, surrender and work with the government, following the latter's delay in integrating and regularizing the armed groups that surrendered last year in April. The state's governor appealed to humanitarian agencies to support the reintegration process as quickly as possible to avert the potential violence that might arise from delay in implementation, especially in Yambio.

The UNMISS and UNDP, in collaboration with USAID, convened a meeting of international agencies operating in Yambio in order to mobilize them to find means and ways to support the government and local peace efforts relating to the reintegration process.

On 10th August, the 1st meeting was held in Juba at the UNDP offices. Yambio joined via teleconference from Yambio UNMISS base. The meeting aimed at identifying potential partners in addressing the reintegration challenges. During this meeting, it was revealed that over 5,000 combatants have surrendered and were ready for reintegration. The numbers were later revised down 1,000 combatants.

Last week was spent on identifying the combatants and their preferences in terms of which armed services they would like to integrate such as the army, the police force, CID, wild life force and, fire brigade. A few elderly members preferred to be demobilized.

Today, we had a preliminary meeting at UNMISS to map out the support activities towards the reintegration process in preparation for next week's meeting in Juba and to which Yambio will join via V/ teleconference. During the meeting, it emerged that 1,632 combatants have already been identified for reintegration including 57 individuals to be demobilized due to advanced age. Contrary to earlier indications, there are no children nor minors among the identified combatants.

The inconsistency in numbers, from 4,000+ to about 1,600, raises a number of questions, but at the moment this is not the main focus. The reintegration process is expected to take quite a bit of time depending on how fast the government can integrate the combatants in the various armed services. At any rate, it is hoped that process will encourage other members of the various armed groups to surrender over time.

Depending on the needs that will be identified through this exercise, the next steps will most likely involve psychosocial support, truth and reconciliation mechanisms, trauma healing, social integration, vocational and skill trainings and livelihood interventions.

 

Source: Jesuit Refugee Service 

 

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