ADDIS ABEBA – Government and United Nations agencies launched on Friday a center where refugees can access services such as the registration of births, marriages, divorces, and deaths and receive protection referrals and civil documentation.
These services will also be available to people from the local communities surrounding Bambasi Camp of Benishangul-Gumuz.
UNHCR, UNICEF, state-run Vital Events Registration Agency and the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) jointly opened the center also known as a One-Stop-Shop.
The launch marks the beginning of a process that will lead to a government-owned digitized and harmonized model for refugees assistance that will also serve local communities, said the UN refugee agency.
The initiative is in line with the Global Compact on Refugees which promotes the provision of common services and infrastructure for both refugees and local communities.
Officials said the one-stop-shop is the first of 27 such facilities to be established throughout Ethiopia.
They will support the integration of services for refugees with national systems as enshrined in Ethiopia’s revised new refugee law that was adopted in January of this year.
“The One-Stop-Shop and the services provided in it will facilitate the government’s out-of-camp policy which foresees a significant number of refugees living and working outside of refugee camps,” says Clementine Nkweta-Salami, the UNHCR Representative in Ethiopia.
“Refugees, including those in Bambasi Camp, having obtained nationally recognized proof of registration and refugee ID cards at the One-Stop-Shop, will have the means to access basic services provided by the government throughout the country.”
The UN child agency described the opening of this center as important for refugee children in Ethiopia.
They “will now realize their right to a birth certificate”, says UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Adele Khodr.
“A birth certificate is an important identity document that can protect a child from violations such as child marriage and child labour,” Khodr continued, “We expect more children to have their births registered and to realize their right to a legal identity.”
The One-Stop-Shop is equipped with the latest digital registration technology together with internet connectivity to facilitate two-way communication between persons of concern and service providers.
The system is able to issue Proof of Registration documents, ID cards, and civil registration certificates as soon as a request is received. It also provides refugees and local communities access to the internet to be able to seek and secure essential services.
Ethiopia hosts more than 900,000 refugees and is currently working to include refugees in national systems.
By Our Staff Writer