The federal government of Ethiopia and the United Nations take the first step in rehabilitating former Tigray combatants.
Resource mobilization is ongoing to reintegrate combatants from the two-year northern Ethiopian war.
On March 10, 2023, stakeholders met in Mekelle for the first national Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and rehabilitation consultation forum. The National Rehabilitation Commission (NRC) and UN development program coordinated the meeting (UNDP).
The Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF)-federal government Pretoria agreement of November 2, 2022 requires Tigray combatants to disarm within 30 days. Based on the Tigray region’s law-and-order needs, demonization and reintegration were also scheduled to begin immediately.
“Though the rehabilitation and reintegration is behind the timelines, but trust is already built,” said Teshome Toga, director general of the NRC, which the federal government created for the same purpose. “We are here to ensure ex-combatants are not left out, and the federal government has taken steps to support them.
The commission and UNDP are working together to raise funds for rehabilitation.
“The UN and the international community are ready to support the reconstruction of Tigray. The ex-combatants must reintegrate to society and contribute to the reconstruction of Tigray. The need for humanitarian assistance in Tigray is very high. They must heal the wound of war,” said Turhan Saleh, UNDP representative in Ethiopia, who traveled to Mekelle to participate on the forum. “UN will play full part.”
According to Saleh, the UN will provide assistance in clearing unexploded bombs and re-establishing IDPs, among other tasks. The preparations for reintegrating Tigray combatants began only a week after TPLF commanders adopted a document aimed at establishing the Tigray Interim Administration (TIA), which is expected to be dominated by the TPLF and TDF. The combatants will be part of Tigray’s law enforcement, according to the Pretoria deal.
“Over the past two years, blood has been shed in Tigray. This war was fought by teachers, engineers, doctors, farmers, and others. We fought for our cause, no matter how big or small. But now, if Tigray is to return to development, and if the Pretoria agreement is to work, these ex-combatants must return to regular life and contribute to Tigray’s reconstruction,” said Getachew Reda, TPLF’s spokesperson.