Somalia's semi-autonomous state of Puntland has embarked on its first ever program aimed at reducing its security force personnel, a UN statement said Tuesday.
The statement from UN Development Program (UNDP) Somalia said the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Program is expected to target a total of 1,000 forces by mid-2006.
"DDR and security sector reform are fundamental to sustaining peace and prosperity in Somalia by controlling small arms and helping government provide services to its people," UNDP Resident Representative Maxwell Gaylard said.
"At the same time the exercise will help those that have long served in the security forces to find new means to support themselves and their families," he added.
The program was requested by the Puntland government and is supported by UNDP.
"DDR is essential to alleviate the financial pressures now facing the government. It will also make the forces more efficient and effective," Vice President of Puntland Hassan Dahir said.
Once completed, this exercise is expected to free up an annual 1 million US dollars from the state budget that will support the provision of essential services such as education and health.
According to the statement, all security force personnel have now been registered with the government, and a new DDR policy will guide the selection of those eligible to participate in the program.
"After handing over their weapons to their commanders, the participants will be provided with on-the-job training and placement, formal education, rural resettlement or support to start their own micro-enterprises," it said.
The DDR program is a component of UNDP's Rule of Law and Security Program that supports Somalia's efforts towards re- establishing peace and security in the Horn of Africa country.