News: Tigray interim admin announces demobilization of over 100,000 ex-combatants amid rehabilitation challenges

Despite undergoing the demobilization process in two phases, a considerable number of former combatants in Tigray are encountering challenges in supporting their families due to limited resources and inadequate rehabilitation efforts (Photo: Tigray TV)

Addis Abeba – The Tigray Interim Administration has announced the demobilization of over 100,000 ex-combatants, carried out in two distinct phases.

In an interview with Addis Standard, Redae Halefom, head of the Communications Bureau at the Tigray Interim Administration, revealed that the processes were conducted in accordance with the terms stipulated in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed in November 2022.

In the first phase of the demobilization procedure, more than 50,000 former combatants from the military forces of the Tigray region have been demobilized.

During the announcement of the demobilization of ex-combatants under this initial phase in July 2023, General Tadesse Werede, Deputy President of the Tigray Interim Administration, revealed that the process was solely administered by the Tigray Interim Administration.

In a recent interview with Addis Standard, Redae also revealed that the second phase of demobilization took place independently, without the support and participation of the National Rehabilitation Commission (NRC).

“The demobilization of over 100,000 ex-combatants occurred without sufficient facilities for rehabilitation and reintegration, instead relying on the expectation of the successful implementation of the Pretoria deal,” Redae stated. “This underscores the Tigray Interim Administration’s dedication to implementing the Pretoria accord.”

The NRC was instituted in December 2022 pursuant to the terms outlined in the Pretoria Peace Agreement, with the primary responsibility of supervising the demobilization and rehabilitation of former combatants.

So far, the commission has recorded 371,971 ex-combatants from eight regional states, of which approximately 70% are traced back to the Tigray region.

The head of Tigray’s Communications Bureau underscored the difficulties encountered by these demobilized individuals, which encompass a shortage of housing, employment prospects, and fundamental necessities. “They are confronted with a precarious predicament, contending with severe economic adversities and a dearth of job prospects,” he remarked.

Despite laudable endeavors by the Tigray interim administration, Redae accentuated the elusive effectiveness of the commission, leading to notable hurdles for the demobilized Tigray former combatants.

An article published by Addis Standard in October 2023 highlighted the challenges encountered by ex-combatants who were discharged during the initial phase of the demobilization process.

The article elucidates that not all former fighters have completed the demilitarization process, as thousands are still awaiting their official certificates. This includes disabled fighters who are presently undergoing medical treatment in military facilities.

Additionally, beyond disabled ex-fighters receiving medical attention in various military camps across the region, numerous demobilized ex-combatants confront difficulties in providing for their families due to limited resources and inadequate rehabilitation services.

Getachew Reda, the President of the Tigray Interim Administration, recently expressed that his administration is awaiting the comprehensive implementation of the program intended for approximately 270,000 of its ex-combatants.

Officials of the NRC have acknowledged that the commission encountered delays in executing the demobilization endeavors, initially scheduled for September 2023, attributable to insufficient funding to address the estimated expenses exceeding 29.7 billion birr.

However, two weeks ago, the NRC secured a pledge of 16 million euros from the European Union to bolster its operations.

“I anticipate and trust that other allies and partners will honor their political pledges as we conclude our preparations to initiate the process,” remarked Ambassador Teshome Toga, head of the commission, during the signing ceremony of the grant agreement. AS

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