(From Left) NRC Commissiopner Teshome Toga, EU’s Ambassador Roland Kobia , State Minister of Finance Semereta Sewasew, UNDP country director Samuel Doe and UN resident Coordiantor Ramiz Alakbarov. (Image Yohannes Balcha/UNDP)

EU Backs Ethiopia’s Effort to Demobilize, Reintegrate Ex-combatants

ADDIS ABABA – The European Union has committed to contribute 16 million euros to the UN-managed multi-partner program that supports Ethiopia’s bid to rehabilitate ex-combatants.

The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process was initiated with the establishment of a National Rehabilitation Commission (NRC) in Nov 2022.

The Commission seeks to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate an estimated 370,000 ex-combatants in eight regions of the country with the support of its development partners.

On Thursday, the EU agreed to commit 16 Million euros to the UN Development Program-managed multi-partner DDR program.

The signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Finance in the presence of NRC Commissioner Ambassador Teshome Toga, Ambassador of EU to Ethiopia Roland Kobia, and UNDP’s Resident Representative Samuel Doe.

In her remarks, State Minister Finance Semerta Sewasew appreciated the European Union for supporting the DDR process on behalf of the government.

According to the State Minister, the process requires a significant amount of resources with the government committing to cover 15% of the National Demobilization and Reintegration Program.

The program is one of the critical components of the Pretoria Peace Accord and Declaration on the Modalities of Implementation of the Agreement.

As such, Commissioner Teshome said, “It needs the participation and contributions of all stakeholders, friends, and partners of Ethiopia for its effective and successful implementation.”

The latest EU’s commitment is one of the first contributions to the program by partners. The African Union also provided financial support to the commission.

“I hope other partners follow suit,” the Commissioner said, and “support the National Rehabilitation Commission to discharge its mandates.”

According to Ambassador Kobia, the EU support for DDR comes from “our firm belief that Ethiopia possesses the capabilities and potential to find pathways for dialogue and consensus, and ultimately for peace and progress in all areas.”

“The growing social fragmentation and challenges facing Ethiopia at all levels strengthen the need for sustainable peace,” he said.

“A DDR process that is realistic, gender-responsive and inclusive, transparent and effective, is a key step forward”.

UNDP is managing the DDR program as one of five windows within a wider Peace Support Program that has been rolled out in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions with support from Germany, Japan, and UNDP’s Funding Windows.

The other windows are: Local governance, human rights, and social cohesion; Basic social services; Economic revival; and Solutions to internal displacement.

UNDP Resident Representative Doe also said “UNDP’s experience in supporting DDR goes back to the early 1990s stating that “it is a complex and nonetheless integral process to ensure that communities can rebuild and recover.”

“We are bringing our experience on similar projects in Africa and other regions to convene partners to help Ethiopia implement a successful DDR program,” Doe noted.