Somalia sets priorities for defector rehabilitation

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The Somali Defector Rehabilitation Programme (DRP) has set out a detailed work plan on integrating and rehabilitating converts from violent opposition groups.

The priority plans include defector disarmament and community engagement at local level, training and technical support for the DRP, network building, financing and resource mobilization, advocacy and monitoring, establishing proper communication and reporting network, creation of defector rehabilitation database, and outreach.

To facilitate communication and reporting, a coordination committee would be established to draw DRP, the National Intelligence Services, and other State agencies. The detailed work plan will be implemented from next January through to December 2018.

These priority pillars were crafted at an intensive four-day training on the rehabilitation and reintegration of defectors. The workshop funded by the Danish Government and organized by DRP and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), ended yesterday evening, in Kenya’s Capital, Nairobi.

Eleven staff of the DRP and participants from international organizations, such as International Organization of Migration (IOM), Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, the UN and the British Embassy attended the workshop, which opened on Monday.

“This was an important workshop for my group,” said DRP director Cabdirashiid Ibrahim Maxamed at the closing ceremony. “AMISOM has taken a lot of time to ensure we take advantage of what they have been teaching us.”

He said his organization required a lot of capacity building. “The organizers have taken a lot of time to prepare such a wonderful workshop. On behalf of the Somali government, I am grateful.”

The training was the first in a series DRP had lined up to build the capacity of staff, he said. “We hope we are going to have more of this.”

During the opening ceremony Mr. Ibrahim Maxamed said 2000 defectors had already been successfully reintegrated into society since the programme began in 2011.

The programme revolves around outreach, reception of the defectors, screening, rehabilitation and reintegration. “You can understand the risk they can cause if not well integrated,” Ibrahim said, in reference to Al-Shabaab ex-combatants and other armed groups.

In his closing remarks Dr. Ododa Opiyo, AMISOM’s Senior Civil Affairs Officer who is also the Mission’s Head of Stabilization and Recovery, said the workshop had come up with “set priorities developed by participants to be met within the time-frame agreed upon (by the participants themselves).”

AMISOM, he said, would work with DRP to ensure success of the programme’s objectives, including support to its activities.

“I am happy that we have reached at a point when we have direction set to ourselves. During the interaction, we have appreciated the amount of work (to be done).”

He thanked the facilitators for what he termed a “very successful training”.

Topics covered at the workshop included political reintegration, radicalization processes and approaches, financing and resource mobilization, disarmament processes, profiling and eligibility criteria for DRP.

According to UN Resolution 2372 (2017), AMISOM, coordinating with the UN and the Federal Government of Somalia, 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 in Somalia.