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World Refugee Day 2003: Ethiopia

World Refugee Day 2003: Ethiopia

20 June 2003

Peace messages from Sudanese refugee youth in Dimma camp, western Ethiopia. © UNHCR/M.Maasho

This year, Ethiopia started World Refugee Day activities a week ahead of June 20 with a series of workshops and discussions which focused on the role of refugee youth in peace-building and national construction. Problems such as HIV/AIDS prevention and harmful traditional practices, like early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation, were also addressed and discussed openly by refugee youth.

On June 20, World Refugee Day was celebrated in nine camps and in the capital, Addis Ababa, by over 135,000 refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and other countries. Cultural events, dramas and circus shows were performed all over the country. Traditional dances attracted lots of people, including local dwellers who joined the dancers. In Sherkole camp, the Roots and Shoots club held a presentation.

Sudanese refugees displaying their farm products and leather work in Dimma camp.

An interesting initiative took place in order to promote communication between the local and the refugee communities. National students were hosted in Bonga and Dimma camps, where they shared experiences with refugee families. Members of an Addis-based association who stayed with two refugee families in Dimma camp commented: "Refugees are very generous, we talked the whole night. They prepared good food for meals and offered Coca-Cola despite their meagre resources."

Refugees versus aid workers in a tug-of-war in Dimma camp.