Finally, and perhaps the single most urgent issue before us, is the demobilization of the Mujaahidiin. Much time, energy, and money – and even lives – could be lost unless some 50,000 SNM and clan Mujaahidiin are demobilized and retrained. A pilot scheme has already been established in a camp at Mandera for 6,000 ex-Mujaahidiin: for the last four months, some have been undergoing training as police recruits, while others have been trained as carpenters, masons and in other vocational skills.
The men have been given spiritual counseling and adequate medical treatment. A visitor to the Mandera camp would be astonished by the transformation in those few months. From lawless, dangerous men, those training for the police have become a disciplined force, marching in unison, holding their heads high, hoping for a peaceful future and an assured place in society. This disarmament was not carried out by force or even by threat of force, but through dialogue and persuasion.
The remaining 44,000 SNM and clan Mujaahidiin will be demobilized in four or five other camps. They too will either be absorbed into the police force or border guards of the Republic or will receive vocational training in these camps so that they can work as carpenters, masons, mechanics, etc.
A good portion of them will be trained as fishermen and put to work in coastal villages where they will be given the means to start a fishing industry. After training, the men will be given a modest amount (between $2000 and $3000) to purchase the tools of their trade and become self-employed, self-respecting citizens of the Republic.
While a plan such as this could not even be contemplated in Mogadishu, it is feasible in Somaliland because we have laid the groundwork for a peaceful society. But we must not fail to deliver on our modest promises. It is not enough to try; we must succeed. We need all the help we can get from friends overseas to ensure the success of our plans.
Somaliland needs financial assistance to help the demobilized Mujaahidiin to drop their guns and to return to a productive, law-abiding life. There are also some 500,000 refugees living in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Europe, the United States, and Canada. They require similar assistance so that they can be reintegrated into society.
Lastly, there are the roads and the treacherous minefields which run alongside many of them. These need new culverts and bridges and modern machines to sweep for unidentifiable mines. Apart from the known minefields, the two million mines estimated by international experts to be still lethally active in various localities need to be removed.
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