Global Compact for Refugees - UNHCR



Ethiopia is host to the second largest refugee population in Africa, with 905,831 refugees, the majority of whom come from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan [1]. Most refugees in Ethiopia reside in Gambella which is part of the four “Emerging Regions” [2] that are the country’s least developed regions, characterized by harsh weather conditions, poor infrastructure, low capacity of local government, high level of poverty and very poor development indicators, as well as Tigray Regional State. Many parts of the four regions are inaccessible with poor or no roads; and the arid environment in Afar and Somali regions in particular, marked by small and scattered nomadic populations, make it more challenging to provide services.

Following the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants by all UN Member States in September 2016, Ethiopia became one of the first countries to apply the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in February 2017. The announcement was quickly supported by a joint World Bank-UNHCR mission to consider support to refugee and host communities under the IDA-18 refugee sub-window. Ethiopia will receive funds in order of USD 350 million, meant to support the Government‘s shift from a focus on an encampment policy towards activities that promote refugees’ welfare and inclusion in the country’s socio-economic structures. A range of initiatives are included in this grant. See below under ‘Key Partnerships’

A road map for implementation has been finalized and the CRRF was officially launched in Ethiopia on 28 November 2017.

Government pledges towards a more comprehensive response

On 20 September 2016, one day after the adoption of the New York Declaration, Ethiopia co-hosted the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York. The Government of Ethiopia made the following nine pledges to improve the lives of refugees: [3]

  1. To expand the “out-of-camp” policy to benefit 10% of the current total refugee population;
  2. To provide work permits to refugees and those with permanent residence ID:
  3. To provide work permits to refugees in the areas permitted for foreign workers;
  4. To increase enrolment of refugee children in preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary education, without discrimination and within available resources;
  5. To make 10,000 hectares of irrigable land available, to enable 20,000 refugees and host community households (100,000 people) to grow crops;
  6. To allow local integration for refugees who have lived in Ethiopia for over 20 years;
  7. To work with international partners to build industrial parks to employ up to 100,000 individuals, with 30% of the jobs reserved for refugees;
  8. To expand and enhance basic and essential social services for refugees; and
  9. To provide other benefits, such as issuance of birth certificates to refugee children born in Ethiopia, and the possibility of opening bank accounts and obtaining driving licenses.


Strategic roll-out of the CRRF

The CRRF can be regarded as a vehicle to realize the implementation of the Government’s nine pledges. The Government has increasingly sought a more sustainable response that goes beyond care and maintenance of refugees towards promoting their self-reliance. This approach combines wider support to host communities, fostering peaceful coexistence and greater inclusion of refugees in national development plans.

A set of new and innovative approaches is required to increase the quality of protection and expand protection solutions for refugees. The Government is doing this through a four-pronged approach: (1) implementing the pledges; (2) strengthening legal and policy components; (3) supporting host populations (4) strengthening coordination mechanisms.

In close consultation with other stakeholders, the Government has prepared a roadmap detailing the implementation of each pledge, outlining key opportunities and partnerships that must be put in place.

The Government has established a CRRF governance structure for the CRRF, which includes a Steering Committee (SC) comprised of Line Ministries, federal agencies, development actors, UN, NGOs and the donors based in Ethiopia in order to drive the practical implementation of the pledges. The SC is chaired by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and co-chaired by ARRA, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) and UNHCR. It has so far sat five (5) times since December 2017.

The Ethiopia CRRF National Coordination Office (NCO) was established by the Government in January 2018 to ensure the pledges are implemented through a multi-stakeholder approach.  The NCO serves as the Secretariat of the SC, and as the overall coordination hub for the development, roll out and monitoring of the Pledges – and increasingly for the new NCRRS and its accompanying implementation guidelines and action plans.

The formulation of six (6) Technical Committees was initially envisaged to support implementation focusing on six thematic areas grouped around the pledges: Out of Camp, Education, Work and Livelihoods, Documentation, Basic and Social Service, and Local Integration.  However, due to changes in Government, ARRA and the NCO, and especially in light of the new NCRRS, technical committees are being reconsidered to align with the new pillar structure – also cognizant of the need to maintain oversight of Ethiopia’s international commitment in the pledges.

Key partnerships

UNHCR Ethiopia has been identified as a pilot Operation to test the multi-year multi-partner (MYMP) process, with a strategy concluded for the period 2017-2020. This is expected to have a positive impact on the capacity to deliver on comprehensive responses and ensure the long-term impact of ongoing activities, by bringing together the full range of national and international partners and stakeholders to plan together with a longer-term vision, leveraging all comparative advantages to tackle and resolve protection and solutions challenges in a sustainable way.

Collaboration with the World Bank, the EU, the European Investment Bank, DFID and the Ethiopian Investment Commission has continued, particularly in light of the ”Economic Opportunities for Refugees and Host communities” programme and the creation of industrial parks whereby refugees are allocated a 30% quota for jobs (30,000 jobs for refugees, 70,000 for the host community).

Ethiopia will benefit from a US$100 million fund from the World Bank under the DRDIP (Development Response Displacement Impact Program) to improve access to basic social services, expand economic opportunities, and enhance environmental management for host communities as well as the World Bank’s Additional Financing Facility (AFF) which has also set aside additional financing for education for both refugees and their hosts (USD 50 million).  .

The European Union Trust Fund on Migration (EUTF) intends to invest EUR 20 million over the next four years on local capacity building, livelihoods and integrating refugees into national social protection systems. The EU also supports a Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP) investing EUR 30 million through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa in Tigray, Somali and Afar regions through a range of NGO partners. Objectives include social cohesion through improved access to integrated basic services, improved livelihoods and employment opportunities, improved protection and strengthened capacities of local authorities and multi-stakeholder coordination platforms to cooperate in developing an integrated approach for refugees, host communities and mixed migration flows.

IKEA Foundation as well as donors such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia are also supporting the CRRF.

In response to local conflict in and around refugee communities in Gambella, the Administration for Refugees and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), UNHCR, UNDP, UNWOMEN and other partners are initiating a project to improve community security, protection and access to justice in four districts and seven camps, in particular building capacities of local institutions.

Comprehensive regional response to the Somali situation

Ethiopia is currently the chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which brings together eight countries in the Central and Horn regions of Africa in support of peace, prosperity and regional integration. At the Special Summit of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government, which was convened in Nairobi on 25 March 2017, IGAD member States made a commitment to pursue a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for Somali refugees and adopted the Nairobi Declaration and Plan of Action. In September 2017, IGAD Member States met in Addis Ababa to validate the roadmap and results framework of the Nairobi Plan of Action, both of which are the backbone of the regional CRRF for the Somali situation.

On 20-22 March 2018, an IGAD inter-ministerial stocktaking meeting took place in Nairobi to review the steps taken by each signatory State towards the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration and Action Plan. Ethiopia provided updates in respect to progress made on the pledges to date, highlighting the forthcoming legislative changes and development of the National Comprehensive Refugee Response  strategy. Going forward, IGAD Member States agreed to develop national plans of action by the end of 2018. Read IGAD’s full communiqé here.

Latest developments

Civil documentation for all refugees born in Ethiopia has begun in October 2017 after an amendment to the Vital Events Registration Agency (VERA) Proclamation was passed, enabling refugees to register their life events –a critical protection tool. This was one of the Government’s pledges towards comprehensive approaches.

School enrolment [5]In line with the Government’s continued efforts to fulfil its Leaders’ Summit pledges, in the last two academic school years (2016/17 and 2017/18):

  • 12,343 additional refugee children were enrolled in pre-school (ECCE) (29% increase; bringing the current enrolment rate to 57%; close to Ethiopia’s pledge to enrol 60%);
  • 35,863 additional refugee children were enrolled in primary school (37% increase; bringing the current enrolment rate to 72%, close to Ethiopia’s pledge to enrol 75%);
  • 3,880 additional refugees enrolled in secondary schools (102% increase; bringing the enrolment rate to 12%; nearing Ethiopia’s pledge to enrol 25%); and
  • 700 additional refugees enrolled in tertiary education (43% increase from 1,600 to 2,300; close to Ethiopia’s pledge to enrol 2500).

In June 2018, following endorsement by Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers, a draft National Proclamation was submitted to the Legal Standing Committee for review. The draft ‘revised refugee law’ is currently pending approval by Parliament. The Government is also currently drafting a National Comprehensive Refugee Response Strategy.

Contact persons for the CRRF in the UNHCR Office in Ethiopia:

Jonathan Andrews:

Helle Degn:


[1] As of March 2018.

[2] The Four Emerging Regions are the Regional States of Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Somali

[3] For more information, please see the summary document of all Member State pledges made at the Leaders’ Summit on refugees here.

[4] The six areas grouped around the nine pledges are: out of camp policy; education; work and live­lihoods; documentation; social and basic services, and lo­cal integration.

[5] Please note that the 2017/2018 education statistics are provisional and are yet to be validated formally by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education.

Current challenges

The Government’s ability to realize its plans to further its duty of care to refugees, relative to its existing resources available, is contingent on the scale-up of equitable responsibility-sharing for refugees from donors and resettlement countries. In a climate of decreasing humanitarian and development financing that has led to critical shortfalls in food assistance (especially with regard to the World Food Programme’s food ration cuts to 1,278 kcal per person per day against the international standard of 2,100 kcal per person per day), limited opportunities for third-country resettlement, insufficient support to youth and a growing population of unaccompanied and separated children, bold financial commitments –  are needed to fully leverage the CRRF’s transformational agenda.



View all highlights


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
2 MB

This report was prepared by the Evaluation Service, UNHCR.

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

2019-2020 Ethiopia Country Refugee Response Plan

Ethiopia | Studies and reports
2 MB

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

2018-2019 Ethiopia Country Refugee Response Plan (January - December 2018)

Ethiopia | Studies and reports
3 MB

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
327 KB

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
474 KB

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 )

View all documents