Wednesday, November 29, 2017

AMISOM trains Somali officials on rehabilitation and reintegration of former Al-Shabaab fighters

Nairobi, 29 November 2017 – A five-day workshop to train Somali officials on Countering Violent Extremism and the processes of reintegrating defectors is ongoing in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is training twenty participants drawn from Somalia’s Defector Rehabilitation Programme (DRP), on basic concepts and components of the Defector Rehabilitation Programme. At the end of the workshop the trainees should be in a position to identify actors and institutions involved in countering violent extremism.
According to the Director of the Defector Rehabilitation Programme (DRP), Mr. Cabdirashiid Ibrahim Maxamed, the participants are also expected to interlink defector rehabilitation and countering violent extremism.

“You can understand the risk they can cause if not well integrated,” he explained during the official opening of the workshop today, in reference to the ex Al-Shabaab combatants and other armed groups.

According to the DRP Director, at least two-thousand defectors have already been successfully reintegrated into society, since the programme began 6 years ago. The programme operates under five pillars – outreach, reception of the defectors, screening, rehabilitation and reintegration.

The DRP works with AMISOM to screen defectors, and is supported by the country’s National Intelligence Service (NISA).

Mr. Maxamed said that by integrating the defectors, the programme has “saved the lives of the 2000 (former fighters)”, mothers and children. He divulged that the programme had initiated 10 rehabilitation centers in Somalia; three for adults and 7 for children, and the governments of Britain, Denmark, Germany, the AU Mission in Somalia, the African Union and UNICEF for their support.

The UN Resolution 2372 (2017) mandates AMISOM in coordination with the UN and the Federal Government of Somalia, to receive, on a transitory basis, defectors. This is not only to reduce the threat by Al Shabaab and other militant groups, but also to assist the Somalia security forces to provide peace and order, for the country’s political processes to thrive.

“We consider this very important for us in AMISOM, because it’s for peace and stability in Somalia. We can fight Al-Shabaab, not necessarily by use of weaponry but words,” said Dr. Ododa Opiyo, AMISOM’s Senior Civil Affairs Officer and Head of Stabilization and Recovery. According to Dr. Opiyo, the training will offer the DRP staff with comprehensive understanding of the principles and procedures involved in planning and coordinating the implementation of defectors’ reintegration programmes.

“It is important that we are bringing together all stakeholders involved (in this subject) from all over the country (Somalia). We are glad we are all coming together to help defectors. We as AMISOM worked together with the Federal Government in planning this (DRP),” Dr. Opiyo added.

While expressing commitment to work with partners in fulfilling this mandate, Dr. Opiyo thanked Adam Smith International, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Danish Embassy in Somalia for assisting in facilitating the Nairobi training.