Ethiopia and the Netherlands: refugees and migration

The Horn of Africa (HoA) is host to some of the world’s largest refugee populations and migratory flows. The region is fragile with both protracted conflicts and severe climatic challenges, making voluntary return in the short term to the country of origin unlikely for many. Given the limited options for resettlement or the dangerous and costly nature of irregular onward movement to third countries, including the Gulf and Europe, the large bulk of refugees stays in hosting areas for a long time. Ethiopia is one of the largest hosts of refugees in the Horn of Africa. It is also a key country of origin and transit of irregular migration.  Given its climatic challenges (droughts and floods) the country also has a long history of internal displacement.

The government of Ethiopia has traditionally held an open door policy towards refugees. This long established commitment to refugees has recently been strengthened. During the Leader’s Summit on Refugees and Migrants in 2016 in New York, the Government of Ethiopia has made nine pledges to strengthen the rights of and service delivery for refugees. Moreover, Ethiopia is a pilot country for the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which will inform the preparation of a Global Compact on Refugees for the UN General Assembly of 2018, to be led by UNHCR.

The Netherlands applauds Ethiopia’s commitment to refugees and stands ready to support the government in implementing its pledges and facilitating its role as a pilot country for the CRRF. 

Migration has become increasingly important for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ‘Durable solutions for refugees and their host communities in the Horn of Africa’ is one of the Ministry’s priorities. In doing so, the Netherlands takes an innovative, integrated approach to improve the perspectives of both refugees and their host communities. Our aim is to secure protection and strengthen local integration, while tackling root causes of migration and also encouraging social cohesion at community level and supporting information campaigns on the risks of irregular migration.

The Netherlands leads the Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP) for the Horn of Africa. This EU programme has been set up to address protection and development challenges related to forced and protracted displacement. It finances projects in Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenia, Somalia and Uganda. In Ethiopia, the RDPP aims to provide comprehensive solutions for refugees and their host communities, with a focus on protection, education, water, energy and livelihoods. Its innovative and evidence-based approach encourages more coordinated and sustainable interventions, greater self-reliance and  integrated solutions for refugees and host communities. The objective is to move away from the traditional parallel service system, for refugees through the humanitarian channel and for the local population through the channel of the government and its development partners.