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News: Rehabilitation Commission, Tigray officials hold first meeting in Mekelle on disarmament, national rehabilitation of Tigrayan forces

From left: Turhan Saleh, Getachew reda and Ambassador Teshome Toga attending the first consultative forum in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray state . Picture: Tigray TV

Addis Abeba – Representatives of the Federal National Rehabilitation Commission led by its Commissioner Ambassador Teshome Toga, Tigay regional state officials and relevant stakeholders are holding a consultative forum in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray state, on the process of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), and National rehabilitation of ex-Tigrayan combatants, regional and federal media reported.

This is the first meeting between the two parties after the top military leadership of the federal army and Tigrayan forces concluded a five day meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on 12 November last year, agreeing to form a joint committee to “elaborate on the modalities for the implementation of comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program.”

Subsequently, the African Union appointed Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mission (MVCM) team had launched the disarmament process of Tigrayan combatants and confirmed Tigrayan forces’ handing over of heavy weapons to the Ethiopian National Defense Forces on 10 January.

Under the “Disarmament of Tigray armed combatants” of the Nairobi Declaration, it was stated that “disarmament of heavy weapons will be done concurrently with the withdrawal of foreign and non-ENDF forces from the region.”

However, today’s meeting is taking place in the backdrop of the continued presence and reports of grave human rights violations by the Eritrean and Amhara forces against civilians in the Tigray region.

Ambassador Teshome said that holding the joint consultative forum in Mekelle for the first time was made possible due to the “stable situation in the region after the ceasefire agreement,” state media quoted him as saying. He also said that it was meant to be an indication of the progress of trust between the two warring parties.

Commissioner Teshome further said the Rehabilitation Commission he is leading will work to ensure the reintegration of ex-combatants into the community and to participate in development, peace and democracy building, as well as to return to a “peaceful life in a sustainable way.”

He stated that Ethiopia had implemented two such programs in the past, and that the current the Commission will work to make this one to become effective by taking lessons from the past as well as by taking lessons from international experiences on DDR.

Getachew Reda, advisor to Tigray’s leader Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD) on his part is quoted as saying that the consultative forum is of importance to strengthen the peace and for future reconstruction and reform works.

He also highlighted that it was necessary to make members of Tigrayan forces who took part in the fighting after leaving their professional careers to return to their previous professional fields. to this end, the discussion is not only helpful for Tigray but also shows what the reconstruction and reform works should look like at the national level.

The forum is also being attended by Turhan Saleh, resident representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Ethiopia, who is supporting the program. Turhan stated that it is the responsibility of the entire international community to stand with Ethiopia in implementing the program. He pledged that the United Nations will continue to strengthen its support in all sectors as the rehabilitation program will enable ex-fighters to reintegrate into society and contribute positively. AS

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