Policy Dialogue Pillar

ReDSS Ethiopia Unit has been engaged in refugee policy processes since the country unit was launched in 2018. With an expanding focus on broader displacement policy as a result of the evolving context in country, ReDSS Ethiopia through a consultative process with members and partners identified two priority policy areas for engagement in Ethiopia for 2020: (1) Refugee policy agenda (including post-Global Refugee Forum/Global Compact on Refugees, Refugee Proclamation, inclusion, and protection); and (2) Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) policy agenda. Area-based and locally-led approaches were identified as a cross-cutting policy priority and to be mainstreamed across both policy themes, with a particular focus on Somali Regional State.

The overall objective of the ReDSS Ethiopia policy pillar is to facilitate and undertake constructive and influential policy dialogue with key national and regional policy actors and durable solutions processes in Ethiopia.

ReDSS engagement in refugee policy processes

Ethiopia’s refugee population is not only one of the largest in Africa, but also one of the most complex, consisting of different groups of refugees living in very different parts of the country. This poses unique challenges in Ethiopia’s management of refugees. In February 2019, Ethiopia introduced its revised refugee law. As part of this commitment, the Government of Ethiopia drafted a ten-year National Comprehensive Refugee Response Strategy (NCRRS), aimed at supporting the socio-economic integration of refugees and host communities. This is a significant policy transformation. Although still in draft form, the four objectives of the NCRRS are (1) enhancing capacity and systems to manage sustainable responses to the needs of refugees and host communities, (2) ensuring access to and benefit from diverse economic and livelihoods and job opportunities, (3) strengthening individual capacities of refugees and host communities’ access to services and (4) gradually increasing voluntary repatriation and resettlement. This confirms Ethiopia’s place as a leading CRRF implementation country. The Government is currently finalising a series of key policy documents to further flesh out the policy agenda: including the NCRRS, implementation guidelines/directives for the implementation of the Refugee Proclamation, and regional action plans.

The Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) was affirmed in December 2018 by the UN General Assembly. The four key objectives of the GCR are to: (1) Ease pressure on host countries; (2) Enhance refugee self-reliance; (3) Expand access to third-country solutions; and (4) Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity. Starting in 2019, the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) will take place every four years as the key event to drive progress around the objectives of the GCR.

ReDSS has supported coordination and information sharing amongst members through existing mechanisms at the regional and country level and has also set up a GRF working group as platform to assist in coordination. As part of continued efforts to implement the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) in Ethiopia, and sustaining momentum (and at a minimum “protecting the space”) around the CRRF/GCR agenda in Ethiopia, ReDSS will continue working in support of the implementation of progressive refugee policies for the benefit of refugees and host communities. ReDSS will aim to support this in various ways, including through developing common messaging for various stakeholders to utilize in policy discussions, linking evidence through research and programme learning to inform policy development and implementation, and by providing platforms for a wide range of actors to exchange and learn from one another.

IDP policy engagement

Since 2018, Ethiopia has witnessed a significant increase in the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within the country, as well as a trend towards greater numbers of conflict-induced IDPs, as opposed to previously higher numbers of climate-induced IDPs. Despite several large-scale return programmes carried out by the government in 2019, the total population of IDPs in Ethiopia remained at more than 1.8 million persons, according to the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix figures as of 01 July 2020.

In an attempt to more sustainably address internal displacement throughout the country, the Ethiopia Durable Solutions Initiative (DSI) was launched in December 2019 by the Government of Ethiopia and the UN. The DSI provides a principled operational framework to design, fund and implement durable solutions for internally displaced persons in Ethiopia and the communities receiving them. It aims at facilitating collective action and facilitating cooperation between the international community and the governmental authorities at national, regional and local levels. It is based on and reflects relevant governmental plans and strategies as well as international standards including the 2010 UN Guiding Principles on internal displacement and the 2010 IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons. The Ethiopia DSI has been aligned to the ReDSS Solutions Framework, to inform planned safe and dignified (re)integration programming and provide actors with tools to harmonize ways of measuring progress towards achieving durable solutions. An additional significant sign of progress on the IDP policy agenda was realized in February 2020, when the Government of Ethiopia formally ratified the African Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention.

ReDSS aims to work within these existing frameworks and structures to promote and support a common, principled durable and early solutions agenda for displacement affected communities, informed by collective analysis and a common vision based on evidence and learning. To this end, ReDSS coordinates closely with a wide range of actors, and seeks to provide analysis and learning opportunities to advance durable solutions influenced by the aspirations of displacement affected communities and informed by a thorough political economy analysis of each context.