Part of the entertainment during the World Refugee Day 2013 commemoration held at the Ethiopian Cultural Centre hall in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. JRS Ethiopia was one of the main organisers of the fete. (JRS Ethiopia)
Addis Ababa, 26 June 2013 - Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Ethiopia hosted a World Refugee Day commemoration in Addis Ababa on 20th June 2013. The theme of the event was 'One Family torn apart by war is too many'. The commemoration was attended by representatives of the Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), UNHCR, The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC), Diplomats, religious leaders, other agencies who work for refugees and urban refugees from different countries such as Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Yemen and Eritrea.

Different activities took place during the event such as songs by refugee children, poems, drama, music and dancing. Awards for academic performance were presented, speeches delivered and a fashion show by refugees from different nationalities representing their respective countries.

The programme started by welcoming speeches from representatives of different organizations and songs which dwelt on the theme of the year. The songs that were thoroughly presented by refugee children with lovely voices get a warm appreciation and applause by the guests. The song titled 'Just one Minute/ No Time to Waste' was especially touching and inspiring. The song focused on the forceful separation that refugees undergo from their love ones.

Call for action. Fr. Endashaw Debrework, SJ the JRS Ethiopia Country Director humbly appealed to each one of those present to,"Take a minute to support a family forced to flee." Moreover, he expressed his sincere gratitude to all those who have spared some time to avail themselves to be with refugees in celebrating this great day. He summed up his speech by thanking all those who had helped in organizing the occasion and offered special gratitude to the refugees who had entertained the guests with their display of talent and creativity.

The representative of ARRA in his speech explained that they are jointly working with concerned partners to protect the right of refuges globally. The UNHCR representative in his speech asked the audience to stand up for one minute and think about what they can do for refugees that gives great value to protect and save their lives. The refugees representative, who is from Eritrea, while delivering his speech noted that he had witnessed that welcoming refugees is a part of the Ethiopian identity, generous spirit and hospitability. He also addressed issues affecting refugees to concerned agencies such as livelihoods, protecting and empowering the adolescent girls, ensuring opportunities for displaced youth, child protection and resettlement.

Entertainment for the day. Drama was part of the entertainment that was performed by refugee children. The drama focused on refugee life and challenges they face on the way as they flee their country of origin. Most of the audience appreciated the entertainment in particular fashion show which was very meaningful in expressing their way of dressing, greetings in different languages. To boost the morale of refugees as to strengthen and support them in their academic performance, awards were presented to those who had excelled in their studies. Different prizes were awarded to refugees based on their performance by various organization representatives.

The day's programme ended with art and craft exhibition followed by refreshments that were provided to all those present. Everybody had been moved by the fashion show and poems presented by refugees; drama and song performed by refugee children. There was high involvement of refugees compared to previous years. Everybody appreciated the way the programme was organized and passed their gratitude to the refugees and organizations who prepared the event. The majority of the refugees who participated are served and accompanied by JRS at the Refugee Community Center at Addis Ababa, which is the only one of its kind in the city.

By Tesfaye Challa, JRS/RCC Computer Instructor Addis Ababa

JRS began working in Ethiopia in 1982 in response to the growing needs of persons internally displaced due to the Ethiopia-Somalia war and the Ethiopian famine. Since then, JRS Ethiopia has expanded its services serving more refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in the capital Addis Ababa, in Mai-Aini refugee camp to the North and in Melkadida refugee camp (Dollo Ado), to the South. The JRS Ethiopia Country Office is based in Addis Ababa.

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