Source: Africa Portal
By Dr. Mehari Taddele Maru
Ethiopia’s parliament adopted a revised refugee law on 17 January 2019, which the United Nations (UN) has hailed as one of the most progressive refugee laws on the continent. It replaces the country’s 2004 Refugee Proclamation, and grants the country’s massive refugee population access to local integration, a wide range of services and improved socio-economic integration.
Ethiopia is both a country of origin, destination and transit for large forced migration flows, including refugees. As the second largest host country in Africa, it is home to over 900 000 refugees, most of whom arrive from neighbouring South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea with small numbers from Yemen and Syria. The Administration for Refugees and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), under the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), is the primary government agency responsible for the management of refugees and returnees. The agency works in tandem with international bodies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which was involved in drafting the new refugee law.
Furthermore, under the revised law, asylum seekers or refugees who have lived in Ethiopia for a « protracted period » could request to be integrated locally. An asylum seeker or refugee who fulfils the requirements under the nationality law of Ethiopia may apply for naturalisation. Moreover, refugees have the right to safe and dignified repatriation with free and informed consent. This makes repatriation the right of the refugee, not that of the NISS.