Ethiopia Plans to Close 27 Refugee Camps

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By VOA For Citizen Digital

The government of Ethiopia says it will close all 27 refugee camps in its territory over the next 10 years and integrate residents into local communities.

“There will be a gradual transition from a camp-based protection model to supporting refugees directly within host communities,” Zeynu Jemal, deputy director of the Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA), told VOA’s Horn of Africa Service.

Ethiopia hosts more refugees than all but one other country in Africa, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR). More than 850,000 refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Eritrea live in camps jointly run by the U.N. and the government.

In September 2016, European leaders pledged to support the creation of jobs for refugees in sub-Saharan Africa with the aim of curbing migration to Europe.

Ethiopia was assured of a $500 million aid and loan package from the European Investment Bank in exchange for providing work permits to refugees.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has told European officials that his country will create 30,000 jobs for refugees and allow them to work in newly established industrial parks.

“We are creating economic opportunities in Ethiopia,” Zeynu Jemal told VOA. “Agriculture creates jobs if they have the skillset, we provide access to micro-financing to boost entrepreneurship, and we are also building industrial parks that can create jobs.”

Ethiopia itself faces enormous unemployment rates with nearly a fourth of its predominantly young population out of work. The Horn of Africa nation is hoping to capitalize on refugee job creation pacts where the international community helps build opportunities both for its citizens and refugee population.

In doing so Ethiopia has secured much-needed capital for its projects and hopes to create at least 60,000 jobs for its citizens, in addition to the jobs for refugees.

The European Union is on board with the plan and has begun funneling funds to build infrastructure and economic activities in Ethiopia.

“The pledges Ethiopia made and the actions it is taking today are exemplary and inspire many African states,” said Daniel Endres, a UNHCR official.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Rayon expressed his government’s willingness to support Ethiopia and the UNHCR in their efforts to implement the project.

1 Comment


    Woyane thrives on phrase mongering, picking what sounds trendy and making a publicity stunt out of it. What is the current trend? Many rich countries are closing their doors to refugees. This is unfortunate. Progressive forces all over the world are rallying against the inhuman stances of affluent countries against helpless refugees.

    As always, Woyanes are quick to pick on this trendy stuff, they want to cash on it! Imagine a poor country, Ethiopia, taking millions of refugees on board and converting them to citizens, permanently settling them in the country! Definitely, this sales and Woyane knows this.

    Luckily for Woyanes, there is no scarcity of gullible activists operating at international scale, and holding key positions in multilateral humanitarian agencies. What is the ulterior motive behind this decision by Woyane?

    First, it is the familiar tactic of Woyane creating news, making headlines, changing the subject, etc. Remember lately Woyane has received bad publicity, its name appearing in global media with negative news. Woyanes must have been itching, searching for some way of making positive images. Somehow they stumbled on this one. If there is no concerted effort to counter it by activists the opposition camp, then this is bound to work for them.

    Second, this initiative, if one can call it that way, is a double edged sword. On the one hand, through the publicity stunt, Woyane gets popular support at global scale for this unique and daring initiative. With the positive image making, support follows. It is the kind of thing that even the opposition and any other group would struggle to argue against, because this is “good”. It sounds wrong to tell someone not to do something “good”, right? Well, the goal woyane has in mind is not so good after all. It is a mechanism through which Woyane is seeking hard currency for the resettlement schemes, we know hard currency has been drying up fast in recent months.

    Woyane knows all it needs to regain the “good guys” image for itself, and then start milking money from unsuspecting donors and philanthropists. the rest is history. Woayne runs away with the money, the philanthropists would run away with their “feel good factor”.

    The Ethiopian people will be left with picking up the pieces. After all, the refugees would be resettled on somebody else’s land, we know they will not be taken to Tigray. So, even this is an opportunity for yet another round of land grab by the back door, the only difference being that land will be given to desperately poor and unfortunate people, unlike the previous round when domestic and foreign billionaires were land grabbers. Now the international community will effectively “buy the land”, that is to say transferring millions of dollars to Woyane banks in the name of financing the resettlement schemes. The money will be siphoned off to foreign banks, as usual.

    The irony in this affair is that nobody will ask whether or not the refugees would want to resettle in some remote corner of Ethiopia. for sure, when situations change in their home land, the refugees would cross the border and go back to their ancestral lands.

    This ponzi scheme got to be stopped before it is too late.

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