UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SOMALIA: Puntland begins reducing security forces
NAIROBI, 3 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - The self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, on Tuesday embarked on its first ever disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programme designed to reduce the number of its military personnel, officials said.
The DDR intitiative, which is supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), is expected to cut the number of Puntland's security forces by 1,000 by the middle of 2006 and save funds to finance development projects.
"DDR is essential to alleviate the financial pressures now facing the government," Puntland's Vice-President Hassan Dahir said. "It will also make the forces more efficient and effective."
Once completed, this exercise is expected to free up an annual US $1 million from the state budget. The funds will be used to support the provision of essential services like education and health.
All security force personnel have been registered with the government, and a new DDR policy will guide the selection of those eligible to participate in the programme. After handing over their weapons to their commanders, the participants will be provided with on-the-job training and placement, formal education, rural resettlement or support to start their own microenterprises.
"DDR and security-sector reform are fundamental to sustaining peace and prosperity in Somalia by controlling small arms and helping government provide services to its people," Maxwell Gaylard, UNDP resident representative for Somalia, said during the launch of the programme in Puntland's capital, Garowe, on Tuesday.
"At the same time, it will help those that have long served in the security forces to find new means to support themselves and their families," he added.
The DDR programme is a component of UNDP's Rule of Law and Security Programme, which supports local efforts towards re-establishing peace and security in Somalia.
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