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Ethiopia reaffirms open-door refugee
policy amid continuing refugee influx       

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia on Monday reaffirmed its open-door policy for refugees that are flocking into the East African country mainly from its unsettled neighboring countries.

The Ethiopian refugee agency (ARRA) said on Monday that even though the country presently shelters more than 900,000 refugees, it will maintain its open door policy towards refugees and “continue to receive new arrivals from several of its neighbors, notably from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Yemen.”

Ethiopia, which is home to the second largest refugee population in Africa next to Uganda, further affirmed its commitment to improving refugee lives through the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Nine Significant Pledges it has made in September 2016.

“As a country proud for its long-standing history of hosting refugees and home to the second largest refugee population in Africa, our commitment to improving refugee lives will continue unabated in light of the CRRF and the Nine Significant Pledges we made in September 2016,” Zeynu Jemal, Deputy Director of Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), told journalists on Monday.

Jemal also revealed Ethiopia’s plan to formulate a strategic plan that envisaged to help refugees both through support packages and prevention of challenges towards bringing lasting solution.

“We are now in the process of formulating a Ten-Year Strategic Plan to comprehensively respond to the multifaceted needs of refugees that is creating strong linkages between humanitarian assistance, development and of course peace-building,” Jemal said.

The Ethiopian government, through ARRA and other governmental institutions, is currently implementing a program of protection and hospitality of refugees in several refugee camps across the country.

The protection program guarantees, among other things, education for children and youth, health services and the distribution of basic needs, food and security.

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in his recent visit to Ethiopia’s Gameblla regional state, which is housing most of the South Sudanese refugees, had praised efforts made by the Ethiopian government in handling the regional refugee crisis.

“Ethiopia is a very good model of how a country with a limited resources and a great challenge of its own keeps its doors open, its arms open to people from neighboring countries that are in trouble and seek protection here,” Grandi said during his visit.



113 East African refugees relocated to Italy

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- A group of 113 Eritrean, Somali and South Sudanese refugees who were living in Ethiopia’s refugee camps have left here for Italy on Monday through a relocation program.

The 113 refugees, who are relocated to Italy as part of a the “Humanitarian Corridor” initiative, include 88 Eritreans, 22 South Sudanese and 3 Somalis, who had resided in Ethiopia’s refugee camps for some time.

The Humanitarian Corridor program, which envisages rebuilding the lives of a total of 500 refugees, is an initiative established by the Italian Government in partnership with several humanitarian and faith based- organizations, the Ethiopian refugee agency (ARRA) and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

Zeynu Jemal, Deputy Director of Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), said the initiative is an important step forward in “changing the lives of refugees as it also gives them hope and one way of curbing illegal secondary movements out of camps.”

“We value and greatly commend the Government of Italy’s contribution to creating a world more open to refugees and to the advancement of comprehensive responses to refugee situation,” Jemal added.

According to ARRA, half of the 113 refugees that were relocated to Italy are minors, including South Sudanese children born in Pugnido’s Refugee Camp in Ethiopia’s Gambela Regional state.

Some 25 refugees from Somalia, Eritrea and South Sudan left for Italy as part of the initiative’s first round of relocation program in December last year.

The humanitarian corridor initiative is designed through a personalized method of accompaniment and integration with an Italian host family and community, it was noted.

The initiative is said to be a response mechanism as refugees often risk their lives crossing the Sinai desert, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea with the aim of reaching Europe through the support of illegal human smugglers and traffickers.


46 Ethiopians to return after illegally entering Zambia

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government on Monday said 46 Ethiopians that had been imprisoned in Zambia for illegal entry will arrive in Ethiopia on Tuesday morning.

Speaking exclusively to Xinhua, Meles Alem, Spokesperson of Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the 46 Ethiopians were en-route to South Africa under the arrangement of traffickers before they were detained.

The 46 will be repatriated with the help of Ethiopian embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe which also covers Zambia where Ethiopia doesn’t have an embassy.

“Ethiopia has formed a national steering committee to combat human trafficking chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen,” Alem said, adding the committee comprises of religious figures, NGOs and regional governments to educate the community on the dangers of human trafficking.

He said Ethiopian migrants pay up to 5,000 US dollars to human traffickers to reach South Africa.

Despite a growing economy and public awareness campaigns on the dangers of human trafficking by the Ethiopian government, it is estimated that thousands of Ethiopians are trafficked to South Africa annually where they are mainly engaged in the informal economy.


Ethiopia, Venezuela keen to bolster ties through South-South cooperation modality

ADIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- Foreign ministers of Ethiopia and Venezuela expressed their respective country’s deep interest in bolstering bilateral relations through ways of South-South cooperation.

The two countries’ foreign ministers announced their respective countries’ commitment during their meeting in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa over the weekend, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, in his meeting with the visiting Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Alberto Arreaza Montserrat, in Addis Ababa said that the huge commitment aspired by the two countries “could be accomplished under the aegis of the spirit of South-South cooperation.”

Gebeyehu further noted his country’s commitment to enhance its bilateral ties with Venezuela in a number of areas, which include cooperation in the aviation diplomacy, tourism, oil industry, media and education sectors.

According to Gebeyehu, cooperation on aviation industry, in particular, is one of the most important areas where Ethiopia is ready to work closely with Venezuela and other Latin American countries via the East African country’s flag carrier the Ethiopian Airlines group.

Montserrat, who commended Ethiopia’s readiness and commitment to the principles and philosophy of South-South Cooperation, further expressed “Venezuela’s interest to strengthen the diplomatic ties with Ethiopia, and boost cooperation in bilateral, regional and international areas of common concern,” according to the statement by the ministry.

Gebeyehu also reiterated that Ethiopia, as a chair of the East African block IGAD, “is striving hard to bring about peace and stability in the region, particularly in South Sudan and Somalia,” which, he said, is an area that Venezuela could demonstrate its solidarity and support.

Montserrat is the first Venezuelan Foreign Minister to pay official working visit to Ethiopia.


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