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30 October, 2023 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has conducted the third Annual Regional Review Conference on the Kampala Declaration on jobs, livelihoods and self-reliance for refugees, returnees and host communities, today, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The main objectives of the two-day review conference were to take stock of Member States’ progress, achievements, challenges, and lessons in the implementation of the Declaration’s Plan of Action, as well as to identify selected member states pledges at the upcoming December 2023 Global Refugee Forum specifically those linked to economic inclusion and social protection.

Speaking on behalf of Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD), Executive Secretary of IGAD, Madam Fathia Alwan, the Director for Health and Social Development at IGAD Secretariat, highlighted that the Kampala Declaration marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts to improve the lives of refugees and host communities in our region, and underscores our commitment to promoting sustainable livelihoods that enhance the well-being of our citizens.

“We acknowledge the challenges that countries in the IGAD region face namely peace and security, increased humanitarian needs to address the influx of refugees at the same time reduced financial support to support refugees hosting countries in the region” She stated.

Moreover, she expressed that the Kampala Declaration further places a strong emphasis on building self-reliance through collaborative approach of governments, refugees, development partners, and private sector for the betterment of displaced affected communities.

“We aim to establish robust mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of this declaration to ensure that it leads to tangible improvements in the lives of our people.”

Ato Nigusu Tilahun, State Minister for Employment, Jobs and Markets, Ministry of Labor and Skill of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia recognized that the IGAD Kampala Declaration represents a significant commitment by IGAD member states to promote self-reliance, economic inclusion, and sustainable solutions for refugees, returnees, and host communities.

“This gathering is a vital part of IGAD’s efforts to foster regional engagement and coordinate national consultations to address the challenges of refugees and host communities. We are committed to advancing the objectives of the Declaration, and the draft Monitoring and Evaluation Framework will play a pivotal role in our collective efforts.” He added.

Representing the IGAD Chair Djibouti, Mr Mohamed Ali Kamil, the Executive Secretary of ONARS underlined that the regional conference is part of a series of efforts led by IGAD to organize national and regional consultations to promote the economic empowerment of refugees, returnees and host communities, and to strengthen regional commitment to economic inclusion and social protection, to ensure that our commitments are translated into tangible and sustainable action.

“I would like to emphasize that this meeting is a crucial moment to further strengthen our commitment to the economic empowerment of refugees, returnees and host communities. We have the power to make a real difference to the lives of millions of displaced people.” He said.

W/ro Teyba Hassan, Director General of Refugees and Returnees Affairs noted that since the adoption of the Kampala Declaration the government of Ethiopia had created favorable conditions for refugees and host communities of 129,450 direct and indirect economic opportunities, out of which 38, 621 are refugees.

“I wish to take these opportunities to reiterate Ethiopia’s commitment to the Kampala Declaration and call up on all of us to go the extra mile in bringing durable solutions to protracted displacement situation.” She expressed.

Markus Hein, First Secretary, Regional Officer Migration and Displacement, Embassy of Germany in Ethiopia disclosed that as a member of the core group, Germany is committed to strengthening the IGAD Support Platform which was launched during the Global Refugee Forum in 2019 and its comprehensive regional policies on livelihoods, education, health and return and reintegration.

Margaret Atieno, Deputy Representative UNHCR Ethiopia Country Office on her part thanked IGAD for the leadership it has taken to ensure that the Kampala Declaration implementation process moves forward and for organizing the regional consultations, the third of its kind since 2021.

The regional conference brought together senior level government ministries from foreign affairs, refugee affairs, labor including social protection, interior/immigration, and refugee representatives, as well as, IGAD staff, GIZ, UNHCR, the World Bank Group, key donors and private sectors actors.

The regional conference took stock of the progress attained by Member States on the implementation of the Kampala Declaration and provided valuable inputs on the regional GRF pledges on economic inclusion and social protection. Participants also reviewed the monitoring and evaluation framework for the Kampala Declaration including the key indicators.

Member States and partners applauded the efforts spearheaded by the IGAD Secretariat towards realizing the aspiration of the Kampala Declaration, chiefly to establish, promote, and sustain viable livelihoods for refugees, returnees and host communities in the IGAD region.

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 on 18th March 2019.

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