UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador promotes education for refugees in Ethiopia

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, met with Eritrean refugees in Hitsats and Adi-Harush camps, during her week-long visit to Ethiopia to promote access to education for refugee children.

The Goodwill Ambassador visited several schools and health centres inside and outside the camps, including a government-run nutrition screening centre, which serve both Eritrean refugees as well as members of the host communities.  Chopra Jonas stated that Ethiopia’s open policy towards refugees is an example to follow.

“Ethiopia is a shining example of what we – individuals, communities and governments – can do to help those who have been displaced by conflict and humanitarian disasters by allowing an open-door policy to refugees and providing protection to those seeking asylum in the country,” Chopra Jonas said.  

In recent years, Ethiopia has taken steps to help improve the lives of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia by creating opportunities at home and in turn, discourage people from undertaking dangerous irregular migration journeys.

In January this year, the country amended previous laws to grant more rights to refugees and improve access to education and work outside the camps. Some 196,350 refugees including more than 60,000 children are currently enrolled across different levels of education in Ethiopia, according to recent figures from UNHCR.

To aid the reintegration of refugees and enhance their self-reliance so that they can give back to the community and local economy, Ethiopia also activated the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in November 2017.

Chopra Jonas commented on the importance of integrating refugees at Hitsats and Adi-Harush camps, which are home to some 55,000 refugees from Eritrea.

“These camps sit very close to the neighboring “host” Ethiopian community. Like their refugee peers, Ethiopians in these communities also struggle with poverty and limited resources. Having programmes available for both communities brings equal opportunities to all the children here – education, nutrition and health services – things every single child needs to survive and thrive,” said Chopra Jonas.

Ethiopia is home to more than 900,000 refugees, mainly from Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan. According to UNHCR, the country hosts the second largest refugee population in Africa. As of September 2018, there were about 175,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia.

TMP – 31/05/2019

Photo credit: Frezer

Photo caption:  Hitsats refugee camp in Ethiopia