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” We stand together with the refugees,” says Ethiopia

According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), the refugee population is steadily increasing.The world is experiencing the largest forced migration crisis since World War II with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, including 21 million refugees worldwide. Contrary to what people may think, the majority of refugees are hosted by countries nearest to the country of origin–countries without the resources of the West.

“There’s a misconception that refugees want to come to the U.S. to get jobs or go to our shopping malls,” says Chris Boian, a UNHCR spokesperson. “But they want to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their lives as soon as they are able to do so.

Ethiopia hosts 829,925 refugees–close to one million people–from South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and fifth in the world.

This year World Refugee Day was celebrated under the theme ” We stand together with the Refugees” in the presence of the UNHCR Higher Commissioner Mr. Flippo Grandi, leaders of international organizations, representatives of the diplomatic community in Ethiopia, as well as international media outlets, including the CNN.

The UNHCR decided to celebrate the World Refugee Day in Ethiopia in recognition of the long tradition of hosting refugees by the people of Ethiopia and to give credit to the Ethiopian government for its hospitality in hosting more than 850 thousand refugees. Ethiopia hosts 27 refugee camps in Gambella, Somalia, Tigray, Afar, and Beneshangul Gumuz regions, in addition to the many thousands of refugees living in large cities including, Addis Ababa

The number of refugees in Ethiopia is the biggest in Africa and the fifth largest in the world. But it is not only the size of the refugee population in Ethiopia that makes it stand out. The Ethiopian government is committed to improving the lives of refugees by sharing its own limited resources with its displaced neighbors. Unlike other more wealthier countries, Ethiopia provides free higher education to refifugees, permit refugees to live outside of the camps, allow refugees to engage in agricultural activities, and is in the process of finalizing legislation to allow refugees to live and work in Ethiopia in the many industrial parks currently under construction.

These and other nine packages intended to improve the lives of refugees in Ethiopia were declared by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn during a summit held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, jointly chaired by President Barak Obama and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

These measures are in sharp contrast to the anti refugee sentiment engulfing Western Europe and North America.

Gugniel Refugee Camp, where World Refugee Day was celebrated in Gambella, is located only 100 kilometers from the border with South Sudan where South Sudan government and opposition forces are currently engaged in fierce fighting. There was not one even minor security incident.

 

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