The United Nations said 126 former al-Shabab combatants have completed a rehabilitation program and are ready for reintegration.
The former combatants graduated from the Baidoa Rehabilitation Center, in Somalia’s South West State, on Friday after completing an intensive rehabilitation program.
Aden Hussein, national project officer in charge of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the rehabilitation (DDR) program will encourage more youths in al-Shabab to lay down arms and contribute to the country’s peace process.
“The ex-combatants undertook various vocational training lessons, among them, electricity, masonry, tailoring as well as welding,” Hussein said, according to a statement issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on Friday evening.
He called for more support for the program, saying al-Shabab cannot only be fought using arms, but also through training and the reintegration of ex-combatants.
“This is the best method, and hopefully the graduates will integrate back into the community and be constructive in their communities,” Hussein said, referring to the program.
The program graduates, comprising youths from various parts of the country, received vocational training and psychological support at the center.
The UNSOM, the IOM and other development partners have supported the establishment of similar rehabilitation and transition centers in Mogadishu, Beletweyne and Kismayo.
South West State DDR director Ilyas Ali Nur said the program has proven to be a success, noting that hundreds of youths who defected from al-Shabab have been trained and reintegrated into the community.
“We will receive and welcome with open hands as many combatants as possible,” Nur said.