ILO to facilitate better access to labour market opportunities for refugees and IDPs

Following the recent adoption of the refugee proclamation on 17 January 2019, ILO and social partners, with representatives of ARRA and TVET agencies convened to deliberate on ways to facilitate the integration of Refugees and IDPs into their host communities.

Press release | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | 28 January 2019
ILO News (Addis Ababa): ILO launches a new program to support the sustainable socio-economic integration of forcibly displaced populations with host communities. The program aims to avail technical assistance in employment and job creation for the Ethiopian government in its effort to operationalise Job Compact and its nine policy pledges. This aligns with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) mechanism, a commitment made at the NY Summit in 2016 as part of the Global Compact for Refugees.

The launch of the program that took place on 28 January 2019, follows the Ethiopian parliament's adoption of a revised Refugee Proclamation, which has opened the legal space for all actors, national and international, to accelerate and enhance interventions in this area, and introduced a range of rights for refugees to access labour markets, open bank accounts, move out of camps, etc.

Participants of the launch workshop included national labour, vocational, employer and worker organizations, and consultations were held on the envisioned areas of engagement and proposed technical assistance. The workshop had two levels of engagement, with the first day (28th) focusing on federal players, while on the second day (29th) ILO engaged regional partners from refugee- and IDP hosting areas.

According to UNHCR, Ethiopia hosts 900,000+ refugees which makes it the 2nd largest refugee-hosting country in Africa after Uganda. Protracted conflict and fragility in neighbouring countries have contributed to a longstanding practice of hosting refugees. Ethiopia’s open door policy, enacted in 1991, permits refugees and asylum seekers the right to reside in officially designated camps that are managed by the Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA). Most refugees are of Somali, Sudanese, South Sudanese and Eritrean origins and most live in camps with limited schools, health facilities, food, clean water, sanitation, household or energy. Prior to the adoption of the new proclamation, refugees had restrictions around the right to work and survived mostly on humanitarian aid, which tends to create aid dependency.

Access to employment and livelihoods has emerged as the bridge between humanitarian action and development cooperation and ILO continues to drive critical response programmes, anchored in its comprehensive policy framework, namely its Guiding Principles on the Access of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons to the labour market and the Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation, 2017 (No. 205). This normative framework set a vision where labour markets provide decent work opportunities and enable co-existence between forcibly displaced populations and their hosts.