Somalia, Unicef, ILO pledge more efforts to end child labour. Image Source: IANS News

Addis Ababa, June 19 : The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has commended Ethiopia for its efforts towards inclusive education policies for refugee children and the youth.

The Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), an Ethiopian governmental organization, and UNHCR together with humanitarian partners on Friday marked the World Refugee Day, with a call for greater inclusion of refugees in education, reports Xinhua news agency.

Global displacement figures have hit a historic high of more than 82 million people, according to the report on UNHCR's Global Trends in Forced Displacement released Friday.

Girls and boys under the age of 18 account for 42 per cent of all forcibly displaced people.

As the third largest refugee hosting country on the African continent, Ethiopia hosts nearly 800,000 refugees of whom 52 per cent are school-aged children, and nearly half of them are still waiting for a chance to go to school.

In Ethiopia, 55 per cent of refugee children are in school, according to UNHCR.

UNHCR's Representative Ann Encontre has commended the efforts and inclusive policies of the Ethiopian government which have resulted in "remarkable progress in increasing the enrolment of refugee children and the youth over the last few years".

"Nevertheless, too many refugee children are still out of school, and Covid-19 has only exacerbated the situation," the representative said, "We all need to come together to do more to ensure that even more refugee children get the chance of realising their potential." Schools have reopened following extended closure due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Meeting the necessary Covid-19 precautionary measures, however, remains a challenge as most schools are congested and have limited handwashing facilities and other amenities, said UNHCR in its statement.

Ethiopia's progressive refugee law grants refugees access to education and allows qualified refugees to obtain work permits.

"Ethiopia is doing its part in ensuring refugees have access to primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as to include them in the national education system," said Tesfahun Gobezay, director general of ARRA.

"However, lack of resources is limiting the government's ability to make good on its promises." World Refugee Day is observed every year on June 20.

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