A roundtable discussion aimed at raising awareness of refugee issues was organized by the European Union (EU)
in collaboration with the Ethiopian government. The discussion focused on exploring possibilities to promote self-reliance of refugees through education and livelihood support.
At the event, it was stated that the number of refugees arriving from neighboring countries has been increasing to the point that new camps needed to be established. Different presentations were made regarding the long-term prospects and renewed self-reliance of refugees and strategic plans prepared for refugees by various NGOs as well as the UN that were discussed.
“We want to thank the Ethiopian government’s open-door policy for refugees; the support has been tremendous. The refugee inflow to Ethiopia is not getting better. Now, there are 425,000 refugees in Ethiopia. 242,000 are Somali refugees and over 70,000 are from Eritrea. Other countries are also represented in the refugee community,” said Moses Okello, UNHCR Country Director.
He also stated that Ethiopia was surrounded by unstable neighbors and this means the country is most likely to receive even more refugees in the near future.
“The international community should follow the exemplary role Ethiopia has been playing in providing protection for refugees. The country needs to continue to perform these important functions,” he also said.
The event also commemorated the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union. The EU was awarded the prize for its contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.
“Humanitarian aid is often the only way for children to be able to continue their education, which not only improves their future prospects, but can also protect them from abuse and exploitation. Without the opportunity to learn again, their future will be even more difficult,” said Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia, in her opening speech at the roundtable discussion.
The European Union’s Nobel Peace Prize money, as well as other funding (around 2 million euros in all), is being used to fund four projects under the EU “Children of Peace” initiative. Accordingly, children of Somali refugees at Dolo Ado woreda of the Somali Regional state, who are hosted by Ethiopia, have been one of the beneficiaries of this initiative. The education project of this initiative has been managed by Save the Children.
The EU’s humanitarian work is addressing the specific needs of children affected by conflict. It has been stated that more than half of the Commission’s humanitarian funding goes to conflict-affected areas and 12 percent of its humanitarian budget goes to child-focused relief organizations