EMPOWERING EX-COMBATANTS. European Union envoy Luc Veron (2nd left) and United Nations Development Programme Representative, Dr. Selva Ramachandran (2nd right), get a briefing from BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal (extreme right) and BARMM Technical Education Director-General Ruby Andong (extreme left) on the skills training for former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants on Monday (Jan. 16, 2023). The skills training aims to transform the former rebels into productive members of their communities. (Photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Information Office - BARMM)

COTABATO CITY – The European Union (EU) will provide technical-vocational training to around 600 former Moro combatants as part of the transformation of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps in Mindanao into productive economic zones.

“The decommissioned MILF will undergo training through the EU Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment (PROACTIVE),” Minister Mohagher Iqbal of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MBHTE-BARMM) said in an interview Wednesday.

This came after the ceremonial signing of an agreement between MBHTE and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Monday.

Iqbal said PROACTIVE aims to enhance local capacities to facilitate the transition and transformation of the six major declared camps of the MILF into peaceful and productive communities.

Meanwhile, UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Selva Ramachandran, said the USD4.6 million project will run for two years.

Ramachandran said the project aims to enable "social cohesion and community resilience" as it aspires to increase the participation of women, youth, and faith-based leaders in peacebuilding in their respective communities.

He added that vocational skill development training and accreditation will also provide a richer environment for income sources for the 600 decommissioned combatants.

Iqbal lauded the EU’s persistent support of the BARMM and the Mindanao peace process. (PNA)