Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants in Somalia: Challenges and Recommendations

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This policy brief is a summary of an internal lessons learned study focused on the Serendi centre in Mogadishu, part of the National Programme for the Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants. The brief offers a condensed overview of the current status of the programme and the history of international community support to it, concluding with a summary of key findings and recommendations.

The research on which the brief draws concluded that international support to the programme leaves behind a well-run rehabilitation centre managed by a strong team of national staff well capable of managing the centre and addressing challenges that may arise in the future. It finds that this support has contributed significantly to knowledge about Al-Shabaab, defection from the group, and how to support the rehabilitation of ex-combatants in the Somali context. The research points to the limitations of the ‘pillar’- based approach to combatant disengagement, and suggests providing support more holistically across the national programme. This would mean reducing the focus on rehabilitation centres and focusing more on disengagement and rehabilitation at large in Somalia. Any new approach in the future must recognise reintegration as the primary objective of any disengagement process.


Martine Zeuthen

Associate Fellow - Quality Assurance

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