The National Programme for the Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants in Somalia, led by the Office of the Defectors Rehabilitation Programme, under the Ministry of Internal Security, aims to contribute to the long-term
stability of the country through promoting defections of rank and file Al-Shabaab combatants, and reintegrating the disengaged combatants back into their communities.
More than 2,000 disengaged combatants have received rehabilitation support, including vocational skills training,
psychological and religious counselling, and socio-economic reintegration support. Based on lessons learned and experience gained after its inception, the disengaged combatants programme was revised and updated in March
With the need to address the situation of hundreds of disengaged combatants scattered in different facilities around the country, in 2013 the Government developed a National Programme for the Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants in Somalia. Faced with considerable challenges, the National Programme nevertheless continues to improve and scale-up its activities to prevent and counter violent extremism and maintain peace across the country. With this aim, four transitional rehabilitation centres were established in Mogadishu, Beletweyne, Baidoa and Kismayo respectively.
The National Programme contributes towards security, stabilization, restorative justice and national reconciliation, peace building and consolidation processes in the country.
SPECIFIC GOALS INCLUDE
- Developing an outreach and communication campaign on the procedures of disengaging and renouncing violence, and the benefits of the programme
- Rehabilitating low-risk Al-Shabaab disengaged combatants
- Re-integrating low-risk combatants into their communities
- Building institutional capacity, with consideration to gender, human rights, and child protection issues.
- Contributing to peace, security and reconciliation
- Degrading Al-Shabaab through low-risk defection
MAIN MESSAGES OF THE OUTREACH CAMPAIGN, ‘BE AMONG YOUR PEOPLE’, INCLUDE:
- The offer of amnesty to those who are willing to renounce Al-Shabaab and violence;
- The guarantee of safety for disengaged combatants;
- The National Programme’s offer of reintegration into society including through professional training and continuing support;
- The National Programme’s offer of better living conditions, financial prospects and sustainable livelihoods support;
- Long-term peace and stability for Somalia through reconciliation and renunciation of violence.
While a national policy and related laws are being developed, policies on disengaged combatants guiding the National Programme address, among others, the following:
Children – Per international law, children (below the age of 18 years) cannot be rehabilitated alongside adults. Children are identified at the screening phase.
Women – Men and women undergo the same rehabilitation process, providing women with separate facilities, protection and legal aid, female targeted reintegration, and attention to their dependants, particularly children.
Voluntary process – Individuals voluntarily choose to join, subject to the screening process. Disengaged combatants are free to leave the rehabilitation programme at any stage, following an established process.
Risk levels – The assessment of whether a disengaged combatant is low or high risk is undertaken by NISA during the screening process.
Physical/mental health issues – Disengaged combatants with mental health issues are referred to specialist care institutions, and those with serious physical health issues are as well, and may be returned to transitional centres upon recuperation.
Implementation & Coordination
Being nationally owned and with its primary responsibility resting on the Federal Government of Somalia – in coordination with the International Community, and in cooperation with the Federal Member States – the Programme is led by the Office of the Defectors Rehabilitation Programme (DRP) within the Ministry of Internal Security. The DRP is responsible for the strategic direction, leadership and operational management.