UNHCR commends Ethiopia for inclusive policies on education of refugee children

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The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has commended Ethiopia for its efforts and inclusive policies for education of refugee children and the youth.

The Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), an Ethiopian governmental organization, and UNHCR together with humanitarian partners on Friday marked the World Refugee Day, with a call for greater inclusion of refugees in education.

Global displacement figures have hit a historic high of more than 82 million people, according to the report on UNHCR’s Global Trends in Forced Displacement released Friday.

Girls and boys under the age of 18 account for 42 percent of all forcibly displaced people. As the third largest refugee hosting country on the African continent, Ethiopia hosts nearly 800,000 refugees of whom 52 percent are school-aged children, and nearly half of them are still waiting for a chance to go to school.

In Ethiopia, where 55 percent of refugee children are in school, according to UNHCR. UNHCR’s Representative Ann Encontre has commended the efforts and inclusive policies of the Ethiopian Government which have resulted in “remarkable progress in increasing the enrolment of refugee children and the youth over the last few years.”

“Nevertheless, too many refugee children are still out of school, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation,” the representative said, “We all need to come together to do more to ensure that even more refugee children get the chance of realizing their potential.”

Schools have reopened following extended closure due to COVID-19 restrictions. Meeting the necessary COVID-19 precautionary measures, however, remains a challenge as most schools are congested and have limited handwashing facilities and other amenities, said UNHCR in its statement.

Ethiopia’s progressive refugee law grants refugees access to education and allows qualified refugees to obtain work permits.

At the Global Refugee Forum in 2019, the Ethiopian government pledged to provide quality and accredited skills training to 20,000 refugee and host community youth on an equitable basis, taking into account the labor market demand and linkages with existing and new commitments in expanding socio-economic opportunities.

“Ethiopia is doing its part in ensuring refugees have access to primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as to include them in the national education system,” said Tesfahun Gobezay, director general of ARRA. “However, lack of resources is limiting the government’s ability to make good on its promises.”

With a call for responsibility and burden-sharing in line with the key principles of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), the director general assured his government’s commitment to continuing with “enduring generosity which demonstrates an exemplary level of solidarity to brothers and sisters who happen to be refugees in Ethiopia.” The World Refugee Day is observed every year on June 20.

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