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In a region with one of the largest numbers of refugees in the world, World Refugee Day serves as an important reminder of the resilience and strength exhibited by millions of refugees worldwide. As of 30 April 2024, the IGAD region was hosting up to 4.9 million refugees and asylum seekers. Recognising the regional impacts of displacement, a central facet is the profound generosity of host communities that generously open their doors to displaced individuals. This year, IGAD continues to advocate for holistic approaches to supporting refugees, addressing both immediate needs and the underlying causes of displacement. This comprehensive strategy ensures that refugees receive the necessary support to rebuild their lives and achieve self-reliance, while also fostering stability and development in the region.

On World Refugee Day 2024, under the theme “Solidarity with Refugees – For a World Where Refugees Are Welcomed,” and building on the commitments and dividends accrued from the Nairobi Declaration, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), and the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), IGAD and its member states reaffirm their commitment to pursuing a regional approach in enhancing favourable protection and finding durable solutions for refugees in countries of asylum through harmonised initiatives, policies, and thematic declarations.

Education: The Djibouti Declaration on Refugee Education represents a major milestone in IGAD’s efforts to enhance educational opportunities for refugees beyond the boundaries of their countries of origin. IGAD member states commit to adopting policies that provide inclusive, equitable, and quality education, recognising education as a fundamental durable solution towards the integration and self-reliance of refugees. The declaration emphasises education with the inclusion of Refugee Education into National Systems and Recognition of Qualifications/Certifications, including Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), ensuring that refugee children have access to quality education. This initiative not only benefits refugee children but also strengthens the education systems of host countries, promoting social cohesion and peaceful coexistence between refugees and host communities.

Economic Empowerment: The Kampala Declaration focuses on promoting economic opportunities and self-reliance for refugees and host communities. By advocating for the inclusion of refugees in labour markets and focusing on policies that facilitate access to employment, vocational training, and entrepreneurship opportunities, IGAD aims to empower refugees to become self-reliant for future prospects in countries of asylum and upon return. The declaration also encourages and welcomes partnerships between governments, the private sector, and international organisations to create sustainable job opportunities and improve livelihoods for both refugees and host communities. In addition to policy-level engagement, IGAD is also supporting infrastructure development to improve refugees’ access to skills and entrepreneurship development in selected refugee camps and settlement areas.

Health: The Mombasa Declaration on Refugee and Cross-Border Health addresses the need to provide accessible, quality healthcare to refugees and cross-border communities. It calls for strengthening health systems, enhancing disease surveillance, and improving health infrastructure in border areas, which are usually the entry points for refugees.

Protection: IGAD Member States have long maintained open doors towards fulfilling the right to seek and enjoy asylum, demonstrating solidarity and fraternity with those seeking refuge in the region. The IGAD Policy Framework on Refugee Protection outlines a comprehensive approach to implementing policies that ensure the protection and well-being of refugees. It emphasises the importance of legal and social protection, including access to justice, documentation, and basic services, encouraging the adoption of best practices in refugee management and fostering a supportive and protective environment for refugees across the IGAD region.

In the IGAD region, solidarity with refugees entails embracing comprehensive and inclusive approaches that cater to their immediate and long-term needs. It involves ensuring refugees feel welcomed, protected, and empowered to thrive within host communities. This solidarity extends to acknowledging and supporting the host communities that demonstrate remarkable generosity by sharing their limited resources with displaced individuals.

On this World Refugee Day 2024, let us celebrate the unwavering spirit and resilience of refugees while championing the boundless generosity of host communities in the IGAD region. Together, through education, economic empowerment, health, and protection, we can build a future where refugees are not only welcomed but are empowered to thrive. Let’s continue to stand in solidarity, turning challenges into opportunities and fostering a region where everyone can rebuild their lives with dignity and hope. Together, we can create a world where no one is left behind.

IGAD press end

Written by:

Ms Teresa Diing – Team Leader – Refugees and Displacement Management

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