Ethiopia has passed a new law that grants refugees in the country rights to obtain work permits, accesses primary education, obtain drivers’ licenses, legally register life events such as births and marriages and open up access to national financial services, such as banking.
The changes in its existing refugee law, adopted on Thursday, came just weeks after the UN General Assembly agreed to the Global Compact on Refugees on 17 December 2018.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) congratulated the country, which now has one of the most progressive refugee policies in Africa.
“The passage of this historic law represents a significant milestone in Ethiopia’s long history of welcoming and hosting refugees from across the region for decades,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The law provided for integration of the refugees into its national services like health and education, rather than setting up parallel systems.
“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.”
Ethiopia has over 900,000 refugees, mainly from neighbouring South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea, as well as smaller numbers of refugees from Yemen and Syria.