UN refugee agency welcomes Ethiopia’s revised refugee law

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has welcomed Ethiopia’s historic new refugee law that allows refugees to access more social services. Reuters

ADDIS ABABA (Xinhua) – The Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has welcomed Ethiopia’s historic new refugee law that enables refugees to access more social services and integrate into society.

Ethiopia’s parliament on Thursday adopted revisions in its existing refugee law, making it one of the most progressive refugee policies in Africa, according to a UNHCR statement on Friday.

The new law allows refugees to obtain work permits, access primary education, obtain driver licenses, legally register life events such as births and marriages, and use national financial services such as banking.

“By allowing refugees the opportunity to be better integrated into society, Ethiopia is not only upholding its international refugee law obligations, but is serving as a model for other refugee hosting nations around the world,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Ethiopia’s revision of its refugee law came weeks after the UN General Assembly adopted the Global Compact on Refugees on Dec. 17, 2018.

At the heart of this innovative new framework is a more comprehensive response to displacement in which refugees are included in national services like health and education, rather than leaving them in parallel systems.

The UNHCR was involved in the drafting process of the refugee law revision, which was led by Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA).

Ethiopia currently hosts more than 900,000 refugees, mostly from neighbouring South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea, as well as smaller number of refugees from Yemen and Syria, according to the UNHCR.

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