The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has appealed for “robust support” to meet the humanitarian needs of about 735,000 refugees and some 500,000 refugee hosts in Ethiopia during the course of 2020.
Kisut Gebregziabher, Spokesperson for the UNHCR Office in Ethiopia, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on late Friday that the UN refugee agency and its partners “are appealing for robust international support for refugee operations in Ethiopia with the launch of a funding appeal for 658 million U.S. dollars to assist over 735,000 refugees and more than half a million Ethiopian hosts in 2020.”
“International support and solidarity is vital to ensure the implementation of the wide range of rights granted to refugees by Ethiopia during the last three years,” Gebregziabher told Xinhua, as he emphasized that the East African country’s revised refugee laws grant refugees the right to work and access social services, facilitating their inclusion among the communities where they live in Ethiopia.
In January last year, Ethiopian policymakers had adopted progressive laws, which allow refugees to obtain work permits, access primary education and obtain drivers’ licenses.
Ethiopia’s new refugee law, among other things, also allows refugees residing in the country to register essential events such as births and gain access to national financial services, such as banking.
Gebregziabher also stressed that resources are needed to expand existing social service infrastructures in health, education, water and sanitation, environmental protection, social protection and employment as part of the broad refugee response efforts.
The UN refugee agency, which commended Ethiopia’s long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers, also disclosed that the East African country presently hosts more than 735,000 refugees from 26 nationalities, mainly from Ethiopia’s neighboring countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.
The UNHCR also stressed that the number of refugees in Ethiopia “is expected to grow substantially during the course of the year,” as the country continues to receive refugees with nearly 100,000 new arrivals last year.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second populous nation with an estimated 109 million total population, is also presently dealing with its own internal displacement and food insecurity challenges that leave some 8.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020.