A rehabilitation centre for former Al-Shabaab combatants was officially opened today in Kismaayo, the interim administrative capital of Jubbaland state.
The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) centre is the fourth facility to be established in Somalia as part of the federal government’s National Programme for the Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants.
The construction of the centre was funded by the German Government with support from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the Federal Government of Somalia, Jubbaland state government and development partners.
The inauguration of the facility was attended by the Deputy German Ambassador to Somalia, Markus Bollmohr, the Director of the UNSOM Rule of Law and Security Institutions Group, Staffan Tillander, Jubbaland Deputy President Mohamud Sayid Aden, and senior officials from the Federal Government of Somalia.
The German diplomat noted that the opening of the centre was part of a comprehensive approach to security focusing not only on hard security measures such as a strong police and military force but also on the reconciliatory and rehabilitation aspects of security.
“This is the second (transition centre) that is supported by the German Government and is part of our contribution to stabilizing and pacifying Somalia on a long-term basis,” said Mr. Bollmohr.
Jubbaland State Minister of Security Abdirashid Hassan Abdinoor welcomed the establishment of the transition centre, noting that the facility will greatly benefit the region by offering vocational training courses to former combatants to help them adjust to civilian life.
The sentiments were echoed by Hassan Sharif Osman, an official from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Federal Government who appealed to the youth to take advantage of the centre to help transform their lives and their communities.
“I am advising the youth who will be enrolled here to make good use of their time here. In Somalia, the youth make up about 75 percent of the population, and it would be unfortunate if they do not take advantage of the available opportunities,” Mr. Hassan stated.
Mr. Tillander noted that the establishment of the centre will go a long way towards countering violent extremism by spurring development in the region.
“Without peace, there won’t be any development, and this center will help in preventing violent extremism. It will support a much broader programme, supported by Germany, Japan and others,” he observed.
UNSOM and development partners have supported the establishment of similar transition centres in Baidoa, Belet Weyne and Mogadishu. Besides providing vocational training, the centres also offer psychological counseling to ex-combatants to facilitate their reintegration into local communities.