Ethiopia strengthens initiatives to accommodate refugees

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-29 01:17:01|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government on Tuesday launched a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which aims to transform the socio-economic condition of refugees presently relocated in the country.

The newly introduced CRRF, together with the recently launched civil registration program that was launched by the east African country, is expected to benefit some of the 890,000 refugees that were relocated to Ethiopia mainly from its neighboring countries such as South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia in 26 refugee camps across the country.

The CRRF, which was launched in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa with representatives of UN agencies and other non-governmental organizations, is said to be part of the Ethiopian government's plan that envisages to improve the socio-economic conditions of refugees through the provision of education, trainings and employment opportunities.

Fitsum Arega, Commissioner of Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), said during the launching that one among the initiatives incorporated through the newly introduced framework is the creation of employment opportunities through Ethiopia's industrial parks development projects.

According to Arega, the constructions of three industrial parks are currently underway in different parts of Ethiopia, with particular emphasis given to helping significant number of refugees through job creation.

The three industrial parks, which are under construction at a cost of 500 million U.S. dollar that was secured from Britain, the EU and the World Bank, are expected to create employment opportunities for close to 100,000 people, of whom 70 percent (30,000) will be drawn from refugee communities in Ethiopia.

Prior to the CRRF, the east African country had also launched a civil registration package for refugees, which includes registration of refugees' vital life events, including birth, death, marriage and divorce, directly with national authorities.

Civil registration offices were also established in each of the 26 refugee camps, as well as in the seven locations with a high concentration of refugees in the country, so as to accommodate the civil registration package.

According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), civil registration package for refugees is a "historic first and a ground-breaking development for refugee protection in Ethiopia, not previously realized over decades."

More than 70,000 refugee children born in Ethiopia over the last decade have not had their births registered and will soon be issued with birth certificates, according to UNHCR. Accordingly, children born before the new law came into force can also obtain a birth certificate retroactively, it was noted.

According to UNHCR, the civil registration package for refugees is one of the nine pledges made at the Leaders' Summit held in New York in September 2016.

Other commitments included to grant work permits to refugees, strengthen access to education, to allow a significant number of refugees to reside outside of refugee camps and to locally integrate long-staying refugees, the statement indicated.

The framework, among other things, aims to enhance refugee self-reliance and inclusion, provide refugees with better possibilities for solutions to their plights, and ease pressure on host countries.

As the Ethiopian government is presently scrutinizing a draft proclamation which allows refugees to live out of camps, the country has received 103,263 new refugees in the first ten months of 2017, pushing the total number of refugees living in the country to 889,071, according to UNHCR.

According to Kisut Gebreegziabher, Assistant Communication Officer at UNHCR, the newly arrived refugees are mainly from South Sudan, Eritreans and Somalia, respectively.

The draft proclamation is expected to be presented to the Ethiopian House of People's Representatives for approval in the coming months.