UNHCR lauds Ethiopia for boosting refugees' access to basic services

  • World
  • Saturday, 09 Mar 2024

ADDIS ABABA, March 8 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has hailed Ethiopia for boosting refugees' and asylum seekers' access to basic services through an initiative that includes them in the national digital identification system.

The initiative, which is currently in its pilot stage, is rolled out in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa with the issuance of digital refugee ID cards that feature a unique identification number called "Fayda." It envisages facilitating refugees' and asylum seekers' access to basic services such as telecom, finance and other services, the UNHCR said in a statement issued late Thursday.

The initiative to include refugees and asylum seekers in the Ethiopian digital ID system was recently launched by the Ethiopian Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) in partnership with the Ethiopian National ID Program and UNHCR.

The new refugee ID will allow refugees to access key services, which include obtaining a SIM card, healthcare, or school enrollment, and will also help them improve their access to financial services, providing refugees with the opportunity to open bank accounts and engage in financial transactions.

It will also allow refugee entrepreneurs to formally register their businesses, contributing to the local economy.

Data from UNHCR show that Ethiopia hosts more than 823,000 refugees and asylum seekers, predominantly from its neighboring countries, South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan, across 24 refugee camps. Over 70,000 others also reside in Addis Ababa as urban refugees.

Although the Fayda ID will be rolled out on an opt-in basis, the goal is to scale it up to all refugees and asylum seekers living in Addis Ababa before availing it to all across the East African country.

"This is an exciting development and demonstrates how Ethiopia is bringing to life the Global Compact on Refugees, which aims to support long-term solutions for refugees no matter where they are," the statement quoted Andrew Mbogori, UNHCR's representative in Ethiopia, as saying.

Mbogori also called on countries across the African continent to emulate Ethiopia's move toward boosting refugees' and asylum seekers' access to basic services.

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