18 February 2017

East Africa: UNHCR Hails Ethiopia's Refugee Handling

Photo: The Ethiopian Herald
Refugees in Ethiopia.

The UN Refugee Agency has lauded Ethiopia for its commitment in hosting refugees and providing asylum and other basic needs.

UNHCR Ethiopia Spokesperson Kisut Gebrezgabher told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia is prominent for its open door policy towards refugees and asylum seekers for centuries, and UNHCR as well as the international community appreciate the country and its people's generosity.

Kisut said: "The people and government of Ethiopia, particularly the refugee hosting communities must be commended for their generous hospitality and continued support to the refugees. The international community should recognize this and support Ethiopia to help the refugees.

"However, considering the growing number of refugees in the country and the huge gaps in meeting their needs, Ethiopia deserves greater support to enable it protect and assist the refugees in a better way."

The Government of Ethiopia has made pledges aimed at further improving the level of protection and support enjoyed by refugees in the country and urges the international community to step up its support for the refugees and for those populations hosting them, Kisut affirmed.

According to him, UNHCR has been providing basic assistance and services to refugees and asylum seekers, including registration, documentation, shelter, food, water, sanitation and health, education, training, as well as livelihood support in collaboration with the Ethiopian Government and other partners.

Besides, Kisut confirmed that UNHCR and its partners have been launching some alternative energy sources for cooking and lighting to reduce the pressure on the environment.

Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs Communication and Public Relations Team Leader Suleyman Ali for his part said the out-of-camp policy which has been offered by the Ethiopian government has granted ample opportunities for many refugees.

"Besides, we have urban refugees living in Addis Ababa. The urban refugees mostly came from countries like Eritrea, Burundi, Congo, Rwanda, Yemen and Djibouti. The out-of-camp policy has enabled refugees who need special medical attention and refugees with serious protection concerns," he added.

The Team Leader stated that due to the ever-increasing flow of refugees to Ethiopia, additional refugee camps were launched in the refugee hosting regions, thus the number of refugee camps in the country has been upgraded to 25.

Suleyman pointed out that there are significant improvements in Somalia refugee influx to Ethiopia because of the AMISOM efforts to sustain peace and stability in the country.

"The terrorist group Al-Shabab has been heavily weakened by AMISOM forces and could not pose serious threat as it had been posing before. That's why there are significant improvements as far as Somali refugee is concerned. But the Eritrean problem is still persistent. Hundreds of Eritreans are fleeing their country daily due to the gross human right abuse, compulsory military conscription and dictatorship," he explained.

The Team Leader admitted that the resource constraint facing Ethiopia, ARRA and other partners has been creating setback in providing basic needs to the refugees as much as necessary, urging the international community to stretch their hands in tackling one of the serious refugee crisis in the world.

In addition to resource constraint, Suleyman highlighted that environmental degradation and secondary movement of refugees have been serious challenges occurred with respect to refugee-hosting process.

According to the 2016, UNHCR report Ethiopia is among the largest refugee-hosting countries in Africa, sheltering some 800,000 refugees in 25 refugee camps across six States.

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