4 November 2010 – Over 700 ex- combatants attended a graduation ceremony in Juba after completing five months of training in vocational and small business skills.
The ex-combatants, 40 per cent of whom are women, received three months of instruction at the Multi-Services Training Centre of the Government of Southern Sudan's Ministry of Human Resources Development and then underwent two additional months of specialized training in the vocational field of their choice.
The participants could choose from a menu of courses in small shops management, catering, carpentry, plumbing, electrical installation, metal work and building construction. They also received numeracy and literacy training.
The training was implemented by the German Technical Cooperation agency with financial, material and technical support from UNMIS, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and the UN World Food Programme. The Southern Sudan Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC) led the overall process.
"The government line ministries are also coming on board for the implementation of the DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) programme," said Amanuel Gebremedhin, team leader of the UNDP's Crisis Prevention and Recovery Unit. "We have seen them using their facilities for training, and we are happy to support the national ownership of the program."
A package of materials related to their area of training was distributed to the graduating ex-combatants to help them find jobs to support themselves and their families.
During the ceremony, SSDDRC member Benjamin Goro Gimba reminded the ex-combatants of their need to enter the active workforce and contribute to their country's development.
"As you now progressively move to start a new life, be part of the efforts to bring about peace and stability," said Mr. Gimba, who also serves as the commission's supervisor of states affairs. "Do not be a source of instability."
Former combatant Lilian Keji said that life had been difficult since she left the Sudan People's Liberation Army. She now hopes that the catering skills she learnt during the training will help improve her living conditions and those of her five children.
"The training will be a bridge to change my life," said the single mother. "I will either start my own business or will get a job in my field."
One day before the Juba graduation ceremony, DDR was also launched at a new DDR centre in Khartoum. Under the programme, about 6,500 combatants from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Popular Defence Force (PDF) will begin their transition to civilian life. As of 2 November, approximately 31,600 ex-combatants from the SAF, PDF, Sudan People's Liberation Army and women associated with these forces had been demobilized nationwide.