Djibouti “example to the world” with inclusive approach to migrants

Photo credit: UNHCR/Petterik Wiggers. Children at the Wadajir pre-school in Ali Addeh refugee camp.

TMP – 09/01/2018

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi applauded Djibouti’s progressive efforts to address the needs of migrants living in the country, on a recent trip to the Ali Addeh refugee camp in the southern desert of Djibouti.

The camp, established at the start of the Somalia conflict in 1992, is home to more than 15,000 refugees, many who were born there.

The High Commissioner praised Djibouti’s generosity in taking in over 27,000 refugees from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. He also applauded the government’s announcement that all refugee camps in the country will now be considered villages.

“This is extremely important as it means that refugees will have freedom of movement and can access public services and whenever possible, jobs,” said Grandi.

“Djibouti has always been a very open country, but the fact that they announced it and this follows some very progressive legislation that the country has been issuing in the last few months, is extraordinary.”

The High Commissioner also attended the Regional Education Conference where the eight eastern Horn of Africa countries, including Djibouti, agreed to integrate refugee children into national education systems, and eventually let them receive certificates that are recognized throughout the region.

“This is so important because it recognizes that education is not just a right,” said Grandi, “but also an instrument of dignity and identity and also a very important investment to the future.”

The Government of Djibouti has already introduced a new education system that will allow migrants to study in English and adapt quickly to the national curriculum.

Angosom Tesfu, a maths and English teacher of grade one students at Wadajir pre-primary school noted that the new curriculum is a progressive strategy that will create opportunities for migrants in Djibouti.

“Education is the key for everything especially in the era we live in today,” he said. “As long as these children are living here, it is important that they learn the Djiboutian curriculum as one day they can get valid certificates.”

Djibouti currently hosts over 27,000 refugees, the majority of whom are Somali.

“Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in Africa. It’s a country that has very limited resources, but is an example of generosity of visionary policies, and good management of refugee influxes,” said High Commissioner Grandi. “It is an example to the world.”

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