Ethiopia Maintains Open-Door Asylum Policy for Refugees, Says Peace State Minister


   Addis Ababa September 18/2019 Despite the diverse socio-economic and political challenges within the country, the Government of Ethiopia has maintained its long-standing open-door asylum policy for refugees seeking protection and assistance, Peace State Minister Zeynu Jemal said.

This remark was made by the state minister at IGAD 2nd Ministerial Stocktaking Meeting on the Nairobi Declaration and Plan of Action that opened here today.

He stated that protecting and assisting refugees has been in the mainstream of Ethiopia’s current and ancient history that dates back to the 7th century.

According to him, close to one million refugees that are mostly youth, women and children from 26 countries are hosted in 27 camps in the country; and it still continues receiving new arrivals from South Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia.

Zeynu revealed that Ethiopia is working on transforming its responses to the multifaceted needs of refugees by creating strong linkage with humanitarian assistance and international intervention.

Several measures have so far been taken to ensure that all refugee children in Ethiopia are provided with inclusive and quality education, he noted, adding that “as a result an increasing trend in gross enrollment at all levels of education has been realized.”

The qualifications and knowledge that refugees gain will serve them while in exile as well as upon their return to their respective countries, he pointed out.

IGAD Health and Social Development Division Director, Fathia Alwan appreciated the tremendous regional and national efforts displayed to deliver concrete results in line with the commitment of the Nairobi Declaration.

Alwan said the IGAD region hosts about 70 percent of Africa’s refugees and more than one fifth of all refugees worldwide. She, however, stressed that “resources simply do not match existing needs.”

Moreover, the director urged member states of IGAD to galvanize political momentum for the Nairobi Declaration and take full advantage of the upcoming Global Refugee Forum to reaffirm commitment and seek matching pledges.

UNHCR Director for East, Horn and Great Lakes, Clementine Nkweta Salami said on her part that the Nairobi Declaration has enabled IGAD member states to deliver effective protection through innovative and comprehensive solutions for refugees, IDPs and returnees.

According to Salami, new displacement crises have emerged preventing the displaced to return to their homes.

However, she pointed out that despite these challenges “IGAD member states have made remarkable strides in implementing the Nairobi Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

The Nairobi Declaration and Action Plan on durable solutions for refugees was approved by IGAD member states in 2017.