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Hosting of Refugees by Ethiopia Remarkable, But Not Sufficiently Acknowledged: Representative

Addis Ababa, June 21, 2023 (FBC) – The efforts made by the Ethiopian government to host a large number of refugees are remarkable but not sufficiently acknowledged by the international community at the desired level, as Switzerland’s Permanent Representative to the AU, IGAD, and UNECA observed.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Pietro Mona said supporting countries like Ethiopia that are hosting close to one million refugees and several million internally displaced persons (IDPs) is necessary.

“I think, we as the international community, have the responsibility to really work in solidarity with each other,” he added.

According to him, the Government of Switzerland does not only have a longstanding cooperation with the Government of Ethiopia but also supports a development project called Durable Solutions in Somali regional state.

The project looks at solutions not only for displaced persons but also very much for the host communities so that they can enjoy economic and social development, the representative elaborated.

“What the Government of Ethiopia and so many others African governments and people have done is really absolutely remarkable. And often times these are not acknowledged enough by the international community. We do often look at how much donors contributes, international organizations like UNHCR, but we don’t necessarily acknowledge sufficiently what host communities such as Ethiopia and other countries on the African continent as well have been doing.”

Mona further said that the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) to be held in Geneva in December of this year should be a platform where the international community pays tribute to the strong political leadership by countries like Ethiopia in hosting so many refugees and IDPs.

And also for really opening up the arms and cities and making the entire social infrastructure available for refugees and IDPs, he added.

While commemorating the World Refugee Days yesterday, Refugees and Returnees Service Director-General Tesfahun Gobezay said that in order to share the ever-increasing burden and responsibility Ethiopia has been shouldering in hosting huge number of refugees and asylum seekers, the government urges humanitarian and development partners in tandem to engage seriously in responding to the needs of refugees more than any other time before.

The Government of Ethiopia is more than ready to welcome the private sector and create amicable environment for their involvement in the refugee response in line with government priorities, Tesfahun added.

Ethiopia’s refugee law, revised in 2019, grants refugees a wide range of rights, including obtaining work permits, access to primary education and health care, and engaging in livelihood activities.

UNHCR Representative to African Union and UNECA, Buti Kale said on his part that “Ethiopia is one of the longstanding countries in Africa that host refugees, and it is one of the single largest host countries because it hosts almost one million refugees and most of these refugees are from the neighboring countries. Ethiopia has been quite steadfast, very consistent and generous with hospitality that is quite legendary.”

Note that the Government of Ethiopia has also made a set of commitments at the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in 2019 to enhance protection and solutions for refugees and host communities and has managed to create economic opportunities for some 130,000 refugees and host communities.

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