Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world that has a very generous and very progressive refugee policy that accommodates and grants refugees the right to access services and make livelihood, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deputy representative Atieno.

Deputy Representative of UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Ethiopia, Margaret Atieno told ENA that Ethiopia’s refugee policy is very progressive and generous.

“The government has been very generous by opening the borders, and it is very generous through the policy and laws that they have put in place, which really accommodates and grants refugees the right to remain, access to services as well the right to be able to make a livelihood,” she said.

We have seen recently that instead of putting refugees in camps where they are confined and not able to move, the government has allowed them to settle freely within the community where they will be able to live normally, Atieno elaborated.

Moreover, the deputy representative added that what we have normally seen is that the host communities are the first to respond when we (UNHCR) have crises. Even before we come they give food and they share homes.

Speaking about the recent Sudanese refugees entering Ethiopia, she said the numbers are growing as the conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee to neighboring countries, including Ethiopia.

Sudanese refugees have been entering Ethiopia through multiple border crossing points in Amhara, Benishangul-Gumz, and Gambella regions.

“ Before the current conflict in Sudan, there were about 15,000 refugees from Sudan in Ethiopia. Since the conflict started in April we have seen close to 25,000 refugees come from Sudan,” Atieno stated.

According to UNHCR projection, there could be about 70,000 Sudanese refugees who may want to seek asylum in Ethiopia by the end of this year if the situation is not changing.

The UNHCR is working closely with the Government of Ethiopia to support the refugees, it was learned.

“We are working closely to support the refugees. Since the conflict began Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) established screening and registration facilities at the border of entering points, including in Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella regions.”

RRS is also now putting structures for reception of transiting centers where refugees stay before being allocated for settlement, she added.

The deputy representative stated that “we have identified, again with RRS, two possible settlement sites.”

Settlement is basically the government granting a piece of land where the refugees can find a home, build their shelters, access education and health as they wait for lasting solutions.

On the other hand, however, there is a shortage of resources to address the challenges facing the refugees.

“We are (therefore) calling on partners who have the ability to respond, but we are mostly calling on international partners, to help fund the response. There is great need in terms of resources to provide food, shelter and protection as well as provide support to communities that are receiving the refugees.”

Ethiopia is one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in Africa by sheltering hundreds of thousands refugees and asylum seekers.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

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