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March 21, 2024 (ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia): IGAD convened the second regional Technical Workshop on the Harmonisation of Refugee Statistics in the IGAD Region. The four-day meeting brought together members of the Technical Sub-working Group on Refugee Statistics. The purpose of this meeting was to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing among participants with expertise in migration and displacement statistics. The delegation participating in the Workshop consisted of migration statistics focal points, officers responsible for Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) statistics from national statistical organisations, and representatives from National Refugee Management Departments or Agencies, including Senior Registration Officers, Data Management Officers, and /or Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officers.

The meeting served as a platform for the IGAD Secretariat, Member States, and partners to actively engage in efforts to enhance the comparability and quality of migration and displacement statistics. Recognizing the importance of accurate and reliable data in understanding the dynamics of forced displacement, the participants focused on addressing data and statistical challenges specifically related to forcibly displaced persons. A sub-working group dedicated to refugee statistics was established within the broader Technical Working Group on Migration and Displacement Statistics to facilitate targeted discussions and problem-solving.

Throughout the meeting, participants exchanged experiences, methodologies, and best practices in collecting, analysing, and reporting refugee statistics. The discussions aimed to identify common challenges and develop strategies to overcome them, ultimately improving the quality, reliability, and comparability of refugee statistics across IGAD Member States. By fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing among experts in the field, the meeting sought to strengthen the statistical capacity and expertise of participating countries.

During the meeting, discussions primarily revolved around the second edition of IGAD’s migration and displacement statistics, with particular emphasis on Chapter 4, which focuses on forced displacement statistics. Validation of this chapter was highlighted as a crucial step, requiring input from the sub-working group’s expert team before the report’s finalization. Furthermore, efforts were made to promote wider awareness of the IGAD Policy Framework on refugee protection within the sub-working group. These discussions focused on initiating discussions on the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for the policy, which will facilitate the monitoring of the strategies recommended in the IGAD Policy Framework. Throughout the meeting, the participants stressed the importance of collaboration and coordination among national statistical agencies and national refugee management agencies towards effective refugee protection measures.

In her opening address, Madam Fathia Alwan, the Director of Health and Social Development, reaffirmed IGAD’s unwavering dedication to harmonizing data and improving the collection and analysis of migration and displacement statistics. She emphasized the importance of effective coordination structures at both national and regional levels to support these efforts, aiming to establish a reliable body of evidence for informed decision-making and positive impacts on affected individuals.

Furthermore, the Director commended member states for their continued adherence to an open-door policy for refugees and their commitment to seeking lasting solutions for displaced populations. Notably, in November 2023, IGAD Member States endorsed a regional refugee protection policy framework, signalling a significant step towards creating a progressive approach to addressing forced displacement. This framework embodies a shared understanding among governments, promotes best practices, and encourages effective cooperation among Member States.

While officially opening the meeting, Tayiba Hassen, Director General of Refugees and Returnee Services (RRS), emphasized Ethiopia’s strategic commitment made at the 2023 Global Refugee Forum. This commitment entails integrating existing national services for refugees to ensure their socio-economic inclusion and integration into national and local development plans and programs. Additionally, the Director General outlined crucial steps for enhancing refugee statistics, including mapping institutions for refugee data inclusion, establishing a continuous refugee statistics generation platform, signing data sharing agreements, ensuring refugee participation in national censuses, surveys, and registrations, identifying indicators for official statistics, standardizing definitions across institutions, developing training guidelines, providing ongoing training and capacity building, disaggregating data by age, gender, and diversity, integrating refugees into sector-specific surveys, offering infrastructure support, and enhancing capacity for data collection, processing, and analysis.

At the end of the workshop, the sub-working group developed actionable recommendations for Member States, the IGAD Secretariat, and Partners that provide a unique opportunity to improve the availability and quality of migration and displacement statistics within the IGAD region. The meeting outcomes included formulating recommendations and action plans to address data and statistical issues pertaining to forcibly displaced persons. These recommendations focused on improving data collection methods, enhancing data sharing mechanisms, harmonizing data standards and definitions, and strengthening institutional data management and analysis capacities. The action plans outlined specific steps and timelines for implementing these recommendations, emphasizing the need for ongoing collaboration and coordination among IGAD Member States and their partners.

Overall, the meeting underscored the commitment of IGAD Member States and partners to advancing the quality and comparability of refugee statistics. While fostering collaboration among experts, IGAD aims to promote evidence-based decision-making, policy formulation, and program implementation in the context of forced displacement.

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