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Ethiopia Praised for its Out-of-Camp Policy on Eritrean Refugees

By Tsehaye Debalkew
May 06 2011

Tigrai Online - Eritrean RefugeesEthiopia has been recognized and appreciated for its laudable initiative and decision to establish the-out-of-camp policy that has allowed Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia to live outside of refugee camps in any part of the country.

The certificate of recognition was presented in an unprecedented event staged by the joint collaboration of the Ethiopian Community Development Council/ ECDC/ and the Centre for African Refugees and Immigrants / CARI/ during a Banquet program , in the presence of Mr. Antonio Guterres, the High Commissioner, for the UNHR, who made a key note address pertaining to the state of affairs of refugees globally, on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the founding of the ECDC, held at the Holiday Inn, in Arlington Virginia, last Tuesday.

The auspicious occasion also witnessed in the line of awardees, among others; the Government of Tanzania which was awarded for granting citizenship for long time refugees from Burundi in the country; and US Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia was also one of the Honorees, who were recognized for their distinguished contribution to the cause of refugees.

During the handing in ceremony of the Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation, Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, President of the ECDC, who bestowed upon the prize to the awardees, thanked them all for their outstanding support and contribution to the cause of refugees and expressed his hope that they would pursue their noble endeavor .

Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington Dc. who was on hand to receive the Plaque; a Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation, expressed his country's profound thanks to the organizers, for recognizing Ethiopia's commitment of support for refugees.

He further re-iterated that Ethiopia's commitment to the cause of refugees does not only emanate from its treaty obligations to the UN and the AU. He further recalled that it is embedded in its own past traumatic experience, only a mere two decades ago, when the country witnessed the outpouring of hundreds of thousands of its people forced to abandon their homes to seek refuge in neighboring countries and beyond due to the brutal military dictatorship.

Ambassador Tesfaye all the more, stressed that it has been Ethiopia's long standing belief and commitment that when people in the region, who share so much in common, are forced to go through difficult times and peril, Ethiopia`s borders would never pose as barriers for those seeking refuge and protection.

Other prominent personalities who graced the gathering included the renowned journalist, Ms. Maureen Bunyan, News Anchor, ABC 7/WJLA-TV / who was the Mistress of Ceremonies of the Event.

In a related development, the ECDC and CARI held a two-day colloquium under the title" African Refugees and Immigrants 60 years after the Refugee Convention: Challenges and Opportunities on May 2, 2011. In this forum representatives from Immigration and Refugee Agencies, Universities, Resource Centers, other NGO's, Embassies and the UNHCR, presented various study papers on thematic issues related to the agenda of the day. Ethiopia was also represented in one of the panels during which its experience as related to refugee issues was highlighted.