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News: Over 50,000 Tigray region ex-combatants successfully demobilized- Gen. Tadesse

General Tadesse Werede, deputy president of Tigray interim administration (Photo: Tigray Television)

Addis Abeba – Over 50,000 former combatants of the Tigray region’s military have been demobilized in the initial phase, according to General Tadesse Werede, deputy president of Tigray interim administration, and head of the cabinet secretariat for peace and security.

During a briefing with regional media on Wednesday, General Tadesse explained that the demobilization process is a practical implementation of the Pretoria Peace Agreement, carried out in its own way and with full commitment.

In November 2022, a peace deal was signed between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that ended the two-year-long war in Northern Ethiopia. This agreement was signed in Pretoria, South Africa, followed by the executive plan for its implementation, signed in Nairobi, Kenya.

On 10 January 2023, the African Union’s Monitoring, Verification, and Compliance Mission (MVCM) team, appointed for oversight purposes, have confirmed the start of the disarmament process as Tigrayan combatants handed over heavy weapons to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces. On 26 May, as part of continued disarmament process, the Tigrayan forces handed-over group weapons in the presence of representatives of the African Union MVCM at a special place called Lachi, near Mekelle city.

According to General Tadesse, who was the top military commander of the Tigrayan forces, most of the ex-combatants have now been sent back home after undergoing certification, except for those from Western, northwest, and other parts of the Tigray region that are still occupied by Amhara region and Eritrean forces, due to security concerns. “We have provided them with certificates and some financial support for their livelihood until various rehabilitation programs commence. They are an asset to the Tigray people, and they deserve more recognition for their sacrifices in ensuring the safety of their fellow citizens. We always appreciate them.”

He emphasized that the agreement’s implementation also necessitates the complete withdrawal of Eritrean and non-ENDF forces from Tigray, which falls under the responsibility of the federal government. However, he stressed that these forces are still present in Tigray’s territory. “The federal government must be committed to withdrawing non-ENDF forces and facilitating the return of internally displaced persons to their rightful places.”

Regarding rehabilitation efforts, General Tadesse remarked that the region is working towards initiating various programs to reintegrate the ex-combatants, despite the delay in resources and program initiation by the National Rehabilitation Commission.

Ambassador Teshome Toga, the head of the commission, mentioned in an interview with Addis Standard on 09 May, 2023, that the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) program requires substantial resources for its effective success. The government partly finances the DDR program, while contributions from partners, such as the World Bank, play a significant role. The hope is to receive continued support from the World Bank and other partner institutions this time. AS

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