Global Compact for Refugees - UNHCR



Djibouti has a tradition of hosting refugees spanning over four decades; throughout this time it has maintained an open-door policy for refugees. With a population of around 956,985 – 23% of whom live in extreme poverty [1], Djibouti currently hosts over 29,934 [2] refugees, most of whom come from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Yemen. Many refugees in Djibouti arrived more than 25 years ago; the vast majority live in one of three sites, and are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Djibouti is one of the fastest-growing economies in the East and Horn of Africa, though it relies significantly on foreign financing and direct investments, rents from foreign countries’ military bases, and port services. The International Monetary Fund estimated that real GDP grew by about 7.1% in 2017 [3]. Large-scale investment and new infrastructure projects underway provide opportunities to apply the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in areas where both refugees and host communities live, leading to economic growth and development in these areas, for the benefit of both populations, in the spirit of the CRRF.

Towards a more comprehensive refugee response

Building on the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the Government committed to include refugees in national education programmes and health systems at the Leaders’ Summit for Refugees (20 September 2016). In a promising step towards greater inclusion of refugees in local communities, the Government specifically pledged to:

1. Adopt a new refugee law providing access to education, legal help and to the justice system for refugees

2. Give all refugee children access to accredited education through:

  • Training an adequate number of refugee teachers to teach refugees;
  • Establishing certificate equivalency for the English language curriculum taught in Djibouti’s refugee sites and the translation of the Djiboutian curriculum into English;
  • Convening a regional refugee education meeting for refugee education technical experts to reach agreement on certificate equivalency

3. Give all refugee access to the national health system.

Strategic Roll-Out of the CRRF

To fulfill the above pledges, the Government has created a Steering Committee, a multi-stakeholder mechanism designed to guide and facilitate the application of the CRRF. The Committee is led by the Ministry of Interior and is composed of other line ministries (Education, Health, Labour, Social Affairs, including the Djiboutian Agency of Social Development (ADDS),  among others), representatives from the refugees and host communities, donors, representatives from the national and international NGOs, IGAD, World Bank, UN agencies and the Djiboutian Chamber of Commerce. The Steering Committee meets on a monthly basis to guide the application of the CRRF, mobilize resources for refugees and their hosts, and ensure the inclusion of refugees in development strategies and fora. The strategy driving the application of comprehensive responses for the period 2017-2022 is the National Action Plan, which was validated in December 2017 (accessible here). The national action plan also serves as the road map for the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration, to which Djibouti is a signatory. The Nairobi Declaration for Somali refugees was adopted by Heads of State of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) at their March 2017 Special Summit; they committed to pursuing a regional approach to the Somali refugee situation, which, having lasted 30 years, is one of the most protracted refugee crises in the world.

Key Partnerships

As Djibouti continues to fulfill its pledges and pursues a more comprehensive approach to refugee situations, the Government is working towards refugee management policies that enhance the self-reliance of refugees while also responding to the development needs of the communities that host them. The Government of Djibouti, with the support of UNHCR, humanitarian and development actors, the World Bank, donors and diplomatic missions in Djibouti, are developing concrete measures to achieve these aims. In 2017, Djibouti was confirmed as a beneficiary of a portion of the World Bank’s IDA18 regional sub-window for refugees and host communities, a part-loan, part-grant financial facility that aims to support low-income countries that host refugees.

Djibouti is also one of the first countries where refugees are fully included in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF 2018-2022), ensuring that refugees are fully included and mainstreamed in the Government’s and the UN’s development efforts. Now that refugees are formally allowed to seek employment, UNHCR in Djibouti is working closely with the Djiboutian Chamber of Commerce in order to advocate for the inclusion of refugees in the workforce through the private sector.

In the context of CRRF, UNHCR operation continues to develop its partnership with line ministries. Several discussions and meetings have been ongoing to reinforce the collaboration between UNHCR and government authorities.

Latest Key Developments

  • Fulfilling its first Leaders’ Summit pledge in January 2017, the President promulgated a new refugee law aimed at strengthening the protection of refugees and safeguarding their fundamental rights, including access to education, employment and eventual naturalisation. The new law was applied through the signature of two decrees in December 2017; one on eligibility procedures, the other on the rights of refugees. This laudable and progressive legal framework is paving the way for greater inclusion of refugees in Djiboutian society. The Government, together with UNHCR’s support, is conducting an awareness-raising campaign on the new refugee law to convey the new rights of refugees. This sensitization exercise targets private sector businesses, line ministries and other key stakeholders including refugees and host communities.
  • In order to further advance the Government’s pledge on education, and following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MENFOP) and UNHCR, the Ministry has in September 2017 started to include refugees in the Plan d’Action National sur l’Education to ensure quality education for refugees. The Djiboutian education curriculum has been translated into English for the benefit of the Somali refugees (including Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eritreans), and into Arab for refugees from Yemen.
  • In December 2017, Djibouti hosted the first Regional Conference on Refugee Education. The meeting brought together the Education Ministries of Member States, who agreed to improve and harmonise education standards for refugees, returnees and refugee-hosting communities across the region and to include refugees in education systems by 2020. These commitments on Education are reflected in the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education and its Plan of Action.
  • In January 2018, the Ministry of Health and UNHCR signed a cooperation agreement for the inclusion of refugees in national health systems. The objective is to give refugees the same healthcare and access to the same health services as Djiboutian nationals. Henceforth, the Ministry of Health is in charge of the healthcare for refugees.
  • In April 2018, UNHCR Djibouti, in partnership with the Protestant Church, launched a new program of vocational training for refugees. Altogether, 23 refugees have been enrolled in two training courses, namely building electricity and solar energy. These six-month training courses will be divided in two main components: a theoretical aspect followed by a practical internship. It will allow refugees to strengthen their professional skills and to be competitive in the job market.
  • In August 2018, the Central Bank of Djibouti gave refugees the right to open bank accounts. Previously, it had been difficult, almost impossible for them to do so. This advancement complements the Government’s recent action in allowing refugees to work and empowers refugees and advances their self-autonomy.

Operational and Funding Needs to Deliver on a Comprehensive Refugee Response

  1. Resettlement: The projected global resettlement needs for 2018 for refugees in Djibouti are about 8,000 persons (with a target of 200 persons).
  2. Support for establishment of complementary pathways: third-country governments – in cooperation and with the support of other stakeholders, such as the private sector, civil society and diaspora organizations – are encouraged to establish and expand complementary pathways for refugees living in CRRF roll-out countries. These pathways may include expanded family reunification and family-based mobility; labour and regional mobility schemes; scholarships and education programmes.
  3. Support towards broad-based and sustainable partnerships for operational delivery. This includes greater support to line ministries, local authorities and host populations from donors in-country and from Member States.
  4. Donors engaged in the development infrastructure in Djibouti should consider refugee-hosting areas as priority areas for the building of development infrastructure such as roads and pipelines.
  5. Funding: the Operating Plan for the refugee response in 2018 is US$7 million. This plan is currently funded at 8%.


CRRF Contact Persons in the UNHCR Operation in Djibouti

Capucine Jorda (



[1] As at end 2016, source: World Bank

[2] As of 30 April 2019

[3] Ibid.

Current Challenges

  • With less than 1,000km² of arable land and very little annual rainfall, Djibouti has a chronic food deficit and is wholly dependent on imports to meet its food needs. It is highly sensitive to external shocks such as spikes in food and fuel prices and natural disasters such as floods and droughts.
  • With the last population census having been undertaken in 2009, the majority of the Djiboutian population are living in urban areas, some of whom have unclear documentation statuses. The only reliable statistics are those related to registered refugee population.
  • Work opportunities in general are limited in the country and Djibouti’s continued hospitality towards refugees puts a strain on domestic resources.


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Two Year Progress Assessment of the CRRF Approach (Sep 2016 - Sep 2018)

Afghanistan Belize Costa Rica Central America and Mexico Panama Uganda Zambia Guatemala Mexico Honduras Chad Djibouti Kenya Somali Situation Rwanda Ethiopia | Studies and reports
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This report was prepared by the Evaluation Service, UNHCR.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (4 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (4 months ago )

Key Decisions of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (January 2019)

Chad Djibouti Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Zambia Uganda Africa Somali Situation | Notes/summaries
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The 32nd Ordinary Sessions of the AU Assembly was held on 10-11 February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme they focused was on refugees, internally displaced persons and IDPs. The Summit officially launched the theme of the year and adopted a number of important decisions. To see the decisions, see the document attached. More information: here

Published: 3 April, 2018 (4 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (4 months ago )

CRRF poster – Africa, December 2018

Chad Djibouti East and Horn of Africa Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somali Situation Uganda Zambia | CRRF posters
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This poster provides an overview of key developments in the African countries that are applying comprehensive refugee responses.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (7 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (7 months ago )

Djibouti Livelihoods Strategic Plan 2018-2022

Djibouti | Action plans
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This new Livelihoods Strategic Plan for Djibouti provides foundational knowledge in livelihood and economic inclusion programming, socio-economic assessment and targeting of population groups, and results-based management. The strategic plan was developed with significant support from the Government of Djibouti and ONARS (l’Office National d’Assistance pour les Réfugiés et les Sinistrés), UNHCR’s main counterpart in Djibouti. National ministries, agencies and municipal officials, as well as NGOs and private sector entities such as the Djiboutian Chamber of Commerce contributed to the strategy, helping to understand market realities and opportunities for the near and medium term future.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (10 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (10 months ago )

Affiche du CRRF - Afrique, août 2018

Chad Djibouti Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somali Situation Uganda Zambia | CRRF posters
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Cette affiche donne un aperçu des principaux développements dans les pays africains qui appliquent des réponses globales pour les réfugiés.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (10 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (10 months ago )

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