Somalia starts building rehab center for former Al-Shabaab fighters

2016-06-14 13:58:21 GMT2016-06-14 21:58:21(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

MOGADISHU, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Somalia has kicked off construction of a rehabilitation center for former Al-Shabaab combatants in the southern port city of Kismayo.

The UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) said in a statement Tuesday that the center, which is the fourth one to be established in the Horn of Africa nation, is part of Somalia's National Program for Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants.

Speaking during the launch, director of the Disengaged Rehabilitation Program with the Ministry of Internal Security, Malik Abdalla, appealed to the youth who are still part of Al-Shabaab to surrender and reintegrate into the society.

"We are sending a message to the youth who were betrayed to come and surrender. We also want them to come out of the problems they are encountering because the people they are killing are Somalis like themselves, their mothers and brothers," Abdalla said.

"We want them to become part of the community and Somalia at large," he said and lauded the international community for making it possible for the rehabilitation center to be constructed.

Governor of Kismayo, Abdirashid Ali Goni, said the center will provide accommodation and education to those who had quit the terrorist group.

"Today we laid a foundation stone for the disengaged combatants in Jubbaland. This is meant to rehabilitate the youth who were misled through ideology so that they can be supported and given accommodation, vocational education and health, enabling them to rejoin their communities," Goni said.

The center is funded by Germany, with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the Jubbaland State and other development partners.

UNSOM representative Chandrasekhrar Pakala said it was their hope that the center will be put up quickly to serve the disengaged combatants in Jubbaland state.

UNSOM has been at the forefront of rehabilitating former Al-Shabaab combatants and helping in the establishment of a similar center in other towns including Baidoa, Belet Weyne and Mogadishu.

Besides providing vocational training to ex-combatants, the centers also offer psychological counseling for those who want to rejoin the community.