How is Ethiopia welcoming its refugees?


Are they aware of the dangers they face on their journey?

“I think they are quite aware of the dangers of travelling. They are communicating with people who have already made the journey. In addition, smugglers and human traffickers are communicating with people through social media, convincing them and facilitating their journey.

I believe it’s in the human nature, that even though you know of all the dangers, you think “I’ll be fine.” I don’t think talking about the challenges of integration and so on in Europe makes a big impression. They are worried about the dangers of the journey, but I think they see every person that has actually made it to Italy or elsewhere as a success.

I don’t believe European countries’ information campaigns about the dangers crossing the desert and then the sea are efficient. Those who have decided to go understand who is providing the messages and what their political agenda is. It’s a complex situation but it is also very sad, because especially children and youth are very vulnerable and have a much lesser chance of making it than others. The statistics show that it’s much more likely that you’ll manage the journey if you’re an adult man and not a young boy or girl.”

What responsibility do Norway and the international community have to assist Ethiopia and its refugees?

“It’s important for Norway to do more than one thing. We should continue providing emergency relief in refugee receiving areas, such as the camps in Ethiopia.

Governments such as Norway need to think about what they can do to support development initiatives in Ethiopia which eventually allows for local integration as one solution for the refugees.

Some refugees will need to be resettled to third countries, especially in cases with unaccompanied children who have families in other countries. Those countries need to facilitate so that these children can be reunited with their families.

The governments have to see what efforts they can do on many different levels. They should be involved in trying to find political solution to these conflicts, which eventually will allow for return.”

Why is the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) working in Ethiopia and what do we do?

“Ethiopia has multiple emergencies going on, and we are here to support the government, as the government is taking the lead in the refugee and internal displacement response.

Our work is to address the needs and find solutions for displaced communities, and as Ethiopia hosts a large refugee population, and a large population of internally displaced people, it’s obvious that our mission is very relevant in the country.

We provide clean water and sanitation, shelter, education, food security and livelihoods. In 2018 we started information and counselling activities for refugees and host community to help them obtain important documents such as identity documents and birth certificates, which are important to access social services. This goes well with the way the government is now working to improve the situation for displaced communities.

We are working very closely with the government to see where we can have an added value in assisting refugees and contributing to durable solutions.”

Read more about NRC’s work in Ethiopia here.


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