UNHCR welcomes Djibouti's new refugee laws

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Children from Yemen staying at the temporary transit centre in the Al-Rahma orphanage in Obock.  © UNHCR/Marie-Claire Sowinetz

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the coming into force of new Refugee Laws in Djibouti that streamline refugee status determination procedures and grants more opportunities for their socio-economic integration.

The new laws come into effect as Djibouti’s president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, signed two decrees on Thursday 7 December. The newly introduced laws also facilitate better access to social services like healthcare, education, and employment opportunities.

The new developments are part of the presidential pledges made at last year’s Leaders’ Summit, following the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016. The changes are also part of Djibouti’s application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), outlined in the Declaration, which aims to enhance refugee self-reliance and inclusion alongside more support for communities hosting refugees.

Previously, refugees’ access to healthcare was primarily assured through international non-governmental organizations, while job opportunities were restricted to the informal sector where they worked as domestic help, fishers, restaurant staff, or labourers.

This development follows an agreement between the Government and UNHCR in August this year to provide quality education to all refugee children by including them into the national system.

Djibouti is also hosting a regional conference this week on improving education for refugees in alignment with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).

Having a long history of hosting refugees, the country currently hosts over 27,000, mostly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and more recently from Yemen.

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