IGAD Region Countries Recommit for Refugee Inclusion

ADDIS ABEBA – Top government officials from Igad region reaffirmed their commitment to work towards fuller inclusion of refugees in national systems while ensuring support to the communities that host them.

Officials of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda attended a two-day conference on local approaches to delivering the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) in Addis Ababa.

The countries shared their respective experiences and recognized the key role of development partners, civil society and the private sector in advancing the inclusion agenda.

They highlighted the need for evidence-based decision making and called for national statistical agencies to include refugees within their periodic surveys and statistical reporting.

Zeynu Jemal, State Minister of Peace, said the countries of the IGAD Region have now a similar level of understanding of the new way of working with refugees and host communities.

It is an important prerequisite to achieving the goals of the GCR, Zeynu said.

“We in the IGAD region have a common destiny and know what it means to be excluded”, he said. ” The only way for our region to address its multi-faceted challenges is through inclusion within our communities of our brothers and sisters who are in our midst as refugees”.

Zeynu called upon the international community to whole-heartedly implement the principle of international solidarity and responsibility-sharing so that the countries in the region can be better supported to deliver on their promises.

The creation of a favourable legal environment, granting freedom of movement to refugees; skills training based on market demands; documentation and integration of education data in national systems were some of the key actions recommended to facilitate the inclusion of refugees.

“Real progress on access to education, livelihoods, and energy will transform the lives of refugees and the communities who welcome them,” said Ann Encontre, the UNHCR Representative in Ethiopia, after appreciating the participants for their lively engagements and valuable contributions.

The Government representatives were joined by a number of other development partners in their substantive discussions which were centered on three themes.

These are ‘Investing in national services to support host communities and the inclusion of refugees’; ‘Advancing the self-reliance agenda for refugees and their host communities’, and ‘expanding the whole-of-government approach, ensuring local ownership and adequate financing to the Global Compact on Refugees’.

Organized by the Ministry of Peace in close partnership with the Government of Denmark and UNHCR, the conference was addressed by high-level speakers including from the governments of Ethiopia and Denmark, the UN, AU and IGAD.

The final outcomes will complement wider IGAD Nairobi Action Plan stock-taking events and support the preparation of States ahead of the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) taking place in Geneva in December 2019.

Caption: Eritrean refugees working in Ethiopia. Photo/File