Pretoria accord files positive progress amidst challenges

The brutal and devastating two-year war between the federal government of Ethiopia and the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) has concluded with the signing of an AU-brokered peace deal in Pretoria, South Africa. The two warring parties signed a 12-point peace agreement, including a permanent ceasefire that was agreed upon on November 2, 2022. This accord has brought relative normalcy to the region as the guns have kept silent.

The agreement has brought great hope for all Ethiopians, including people in Tigray, who have been embroiled in the conflict for two years. Services such as banking, telecommunications, roads, healthcare, education, and humanitarian aid, which had been suspended in the region, have now been reinstated. Both sides have reported progress at different times about the implementation of the agreement.

On March 11, 2024, the first strategic review of the accord’s implementation took place in Addis Ababa, where the African Union highlighted the progress made and identified areas that require further joint efforts to fully implement the agreement.

According to a report from the Government Communication Service two months ago, officials responsible for banking, telecommunications, roads, healthcare, education, and aid work services were present in Tigray within weeks after the signing of the agreement. Through the allocation of budgets and the deployment of experts, these officials enabled the resumption of basic services in the region.

Efforts have also been made to continue the education related services, which was interrupted during the conflict. Human resource and institutional capacity building, training on the new curriculum, and the establishment of university management boards have been undertaken. The education quality improvement program allocated 165.8 million Birr for this purpose, and the regional education office is now operational. Additionally, over 517 million Birr was disbursed to the region through the Ministry of Finance for resumption of implementation of the accord during the first and second quarters.

Service reports indicate that 1.46 billion Birr has been provided in coordination with non-governmental organizations working in education, and a plan of 111.08 million Birr has been allocated for school projects in the 2016/17 E.C. Furthermore, over 440 million Birr has been allotted for the reconstruction of educational institutions, and the Oromia region and Addis Ababa City administration have contributed approximately 114 million Birr for the education sector.

The Government Communication Service has announced significant investments in the mineral development sector of the region. The sector office has been equipped with necessary materials to boost production, and an exhibition highlighting investment opportunities in the region was recently held at the Millennium Hall, funded by the federal government.

One notable development is the reopening of the Messebo Cement Factory, which is now operational. Efforts are also underway to support gold producers, both in factories and through traditional methods, with the initiation of mining activities.

In terms of financial support, a total of 4.9 billion birr has been allocated for the capital budget, along with 11.4 billion birr for regular expenses and 400 million birr for sustainable development goals. In total, 16.7 billion birr was allocated to the region in the fiscal year 2015/16 E.C.

Furthermore, four universities in the region received a total of 5.1 billion birr in funding. Development partners have also contributed significantly as they provided 1.7 billion birr to Tigray region post-peace agreement.

Through various means, 1.7 billion dollars were provided following the peace agreement, while over 565 million dollars were invested in rehabilitation and climate change projects through a regional office established by the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Labor and Skills and Ministry of Women and Social Affairs have provided training and financial support to empower sector offices and institutions in the region. Additionally, more than 7 million USD has been allocated to address gender-based violence in Tigray region.

Gebrehiwot Gebre Egzabiher (PhD), Commissioner of Disaster Risk Management of the Tigray Region Interim Administration, noted the relative peace prevailing in most areas of the region following the Pretoria Peace Agreement during a meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency. He highlighted the cessation of hostilities and the provision of limited humanitarian assistance, particularly in relation to food and nutrition. He expressed gratitude to the federal government and other humanitarian organizations for their support in this regard.

He added that the Federal Disaster Risk Management Commission has provided humanitarian assistance to displaced and drought-affected citizens four times in the region. He also mentioned that humanitarian aid was provided to 15 cities a fortnight ago in regions that lacked support from other partners. Currently, the partners can only support 20 percent of their capacity, but there are plans to increase it. Presently, there is an urgent requirement for food aid for approximately 4.5 million citizens. The commissioner emphasized that around 1.1 million citizens are displaced and sheltered in various camps, and efforts should be made to facilitate their resettlement.

Mikael Hagos, coordinator of the health extension and promotion team at Tigray State Health Bureau, announced that before the conflict, there were 2,500 health extension professionals in the region, and now 1,700 professionals who have received training to enhance their psychological capacity and regain their previous work spirit have returned to their positions.

According to Mikael, as a result of the war, 80 percent of health facilities in the region were damaged to varying degrees. The office is working closely with the Ministry of Health to address these issues. In collaboration with the ministry, the office has provided training to trainers to restart the delayed health extension programs.

Medical services that need immediate response are being provided in areas such as schools and in people’s gathering. Efforts are being made to identify and treat children affected by food shortages. Additionally, Mikael explained that work is underway to address urgent diseases such as malaria and cholera.

Haysh Subagadis, the Head of Tigray Youth Affairs Bureau, stated that young people in different districts are endeavoring to start their own businesses, especially in agriculture. He also mentioned that although their numbers are small, there are young people who have initiated different jobs with the support of humanitarian organizations.

Haysh said that the Ministry of Labor and Skills, Women and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Peace are providing support in various forms to create job opportunities and offer training to the youth. He added that the non-functioning federal government infrastructures, which used to create job opportunities for the youth, and the lack of new investments have posed challenges, but efforts are being made to address the unemployment issue.

While progress has been made in the implementation of the peace agreement, challenges still remain. The conflict has caused significant damage to infrastructure, disrupted the economy, and created a humanitarian crisis. Rebuilding and providing assistance to affected areas will take time and require sustained efforts from the government, humanitarian organizations, and international partners.



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