Ethiopia launches first ‘One-Stop-Shop’ providing essential services to refugees, host communities

14 Jun 2019

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, together with UNICEF, Vital Events Registration Agency (VERA) and the Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) launched a centre where refugees in Bambasi Camp, in the western Ethiopian Region of Benishangul-Gumuz, can access services such as the registration of births, marriages, divorces, and deaths and receive protection referrals and civil documentation.

These services will also be available to people from the local communities surrounding the camp.

The launch of the UNHCR centre, also known as a One-Stop-Shop, marks the beginning of a process that will lead to a government-owned digitalised and harmonised model for refugees assistance that will also serve local communities.

Refugees being registered at the one-stop-shop in Bambasi refugee camp. ©UNHCR/Helle Degn

The initiative is in line with the Global Compact on Refugees which promotes the provision of common services and infrastructure for both refugees and local communities.

The one-stop-shop is the first of 27 such facilities to be established throughout Ethiopia to support the integration of services for refugees with national systems, as enshrined in Ethiopia’s new refugee law that was adopted in January of this year.

Mr Amdework Yehualawork, the Head of the ARRA Zonal Office in Assosa, said:

 “By providing services to refugees and their host communities in one centre, the One-Stop-Shops represents a good start in the ongoing drive to integrate services used by refugees and their hosts, leading to eventual inclusion of the two communities in line with the new refugee law.”

“The One-Stop-Shop and the services provided in it will facilitate the government’s out-of-camp policy which foresees a significant number of refugees living and working outside of refugee camps,” says Clementine Nkweta-Salami, the UNHCR Representative in Ethiopia. “Refugees, including those in Bambasi Camp, having obtained nationally recognised proof of registration and refugee ID cards at the One-Stop-Shop, will have the means to access basic services provided by the government throughout the country.”

“The opening of this centre is important for refugee children in Ethiopia who will now realise their right to a birth certificate,” says UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Adele Khodr. “A birth certificate is an important identity document that can protect a child from violations such as child marriage and child labour. We expect more children to have their births registered and to realise their right to a legal identity.”

Ethiopia hosts more than 900,000 refugees and is currently working to include refugees in national systems. These One-Stop-Shops are expected to speed up the issuance of legal identity documents for refugees and local communities, thus realising the fundamental rights of refugees and Ethiopian citizens to own valid identity documents, register their civil events, and access a range of complementary services.

The vital events registration system in Ethiopia was launched in October 2017.

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