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Landlocked at the centre of the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is Africa’s 2nd most-populous country, and has a long tradition of hosting refugees under an open-door asylum policy. Today it is one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in Africa, sheltering 761,819 registered refugees and asylum seekers as of April 2020. Most of these refugees come from South Sudan, Somalia, or Eritrea, and live in one of 26 refugee camps around the country.
In 2019, Ethiopia revised its refugee integration law, and it’s now possible for refugees to leave these camps to attend regular schools and take up employment. Refugees can also now formally register births, marriages, and deaths, as well as access financial services.
Within Ethiopia, localised community conflicts have also resulted in large scale forced displacement, peaking with 3.2 million persons displaced as of April 2019. In response, the Ethiopian government initiated a large-scale return operation, organised within the framework of its Strategic Plan to Address Internal Displacement.
This plan saw numerous IDP camps decommissioned and some 2.1 million IDPs returned to their areas of origin, according to government figures. However, not all returnees have been properly reintegrated. Some are still unable to regain their houses and properties, resume their livelihoods, or access basic services. The government's Durable Solutions Initiative, launched at the end of 2019, seeks to address these concerns in partnership with the NGO sector, and ensure adequate support for the successful integration of returnees.
Many residents of Ethiopia also remain at risk of climate-induced displacement. Extreme weather – a severe drought followed by intense flooding – in 2019 affected more than 570,000 people, leaving over 200,000 displaced.
DRC responds to the needs of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Ethiopia with a combination of protection assistance and multi-sector interventions tailored to local needs. DRC supports refugees arriving in Gambella, Shire, and Dimma with shelter provision, protection services, education, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). In the Oromia and Somali regions, conflict-affected populations benefit from lifesaving protection services, multi-purpose cash aid, Non-Food Items (NFIs), and WASH.