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August 1, 2023 (BISHOFTU, Ethiopia): The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in collaboration with Refugees and Returnes Service (RRS), GIZ conducted the first national consultation on the Kampala Declaration.

Opened in the presence of Ato Nigussu Tilhaun, State Minister Ministry of Labor and Skills, the two- day meeting focuses to foster government and private sector engagement for refugees,  take stock of progress made in the implementation of the Kampala Declaration and reflect on barriers and opportunities in investing on refugees economic inclusion in Ethiopia.

The meeting brought a wide range of stakeholders including from federal and regional government ministries, local and international private sectors, refugees, partners, and donors.

Speaking on behalf of IGAD Director for Health and Social Development Division, Madam Fathia Alwan, Dr. Osman Bilail noted the government’s achievement to advance self-reliance of refugees. He emphasized that investing in refugee areas requires the collaborative engagements of governments, private sectors, refugees leveraging on their respective added value and strategic positioning of different actors.

In her opening remarks, W/ro Teyiba Hassan, Director General of RRS underlined that while Ethiopia continues to receive refugees from neighboring Sudan in the context of declining funding for humanitarian emergency. “Improving livelihoods through economic inclusion is a key component of achieving protection and solutions outcomes for refugees”, noted W/ro Teyiba Hassan.

Accordingly, RRS and the Ministry of Labor and Skills have signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and endorsed Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) resulting in issuing 7,996 work permits for refugees engaged in wage and self-employment pathways.

She further emphasized that “I strongly believe in the significance of working with the private sector and key technical partners to integrate forcibly displaced populations into agricultural value chains, provide access to jobs, and find innovative solutions for economic inclusions.”

The RRS has identified improving enabling environments for private sector engagement and investment as the priority area for the upcoming 2023 Global Refugees Forum (GRF) commitment to access the private sectors’ technical and financial resources.

On behalf of GIZ, Team Leader of Strengthening IGAD’s Migration Policy Implementation (SIMPI) Mrs. Kokebe Hailegabriel, hailed the progress of the Ethiopia in the economic inclusion of refugees as part of the Kampala Declaration.

Annstellah Maina, Senior Associate, Refugee Investment Network (RIN), on her part highlighted that the potential of the private sector lies not only in its ability to generate income and jobs but also in its capacity to create an ecosystem of support, enabling refugees to achieve economic self-reliance.

IGAD collaborates with RIN to mobilize private sectors investing in economic inclusion in Ethiopia.

“As we contemplate the role of the private sector, we must recognize that investment in refugees is not merely an act of charity; rather, it is an investment in the untapped potential and resilience that refugees bring to their new homes.” She stressed.

At the end of the two-day meeting, IGAD aspires to raise awareness of the Declaration and its plan of action, identify critical barriers and opportunities in investing in refuges self-reliance as well as put in place a nation coordination platform in a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.

Key barriers identified during the meeting includes work permits, identity cards and all-inclusive financial inclusion for refugees; short-term funding cycle of projects by donors and partners; very few private sectors investing in Ethiopia on refugees’ economic inclusion.

IGAD is part of the global mega pledge on economic inclusion and social protection as part of GRF 2023 which compliments the commitments made under the Kampala Declaration. IGAD pledges to support its member states to develop concrete and measurable pledges to enhance self-reliance of refugees, returnees, and host communities.

The IGAD Kampala Declaration on Jobs, Livelihoods, and Self-Reliance for Refugees, Returnees and Host Communities was adopted by IGAD member states in Kampala, Uganda in March 2019.

IGAD press end

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