Ethiopia: RCC library opens its door for local students
27 March 2009

Young refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eighteen students are being considered for scholarships for secondary education after JRS re-oriented its education programme in Nairobi. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
By enabling the local community to benefit from the library services the RCC wants to create a sense of belonging among the locals as well as help refugees integrate into the local culture.
Addis Ababa, 27 March 2009 The JRS Refugee Community Centre (RCC) library recently opened its doors for 48 students from the local community, the majority female, who live in the centre’s surroundings. In collaboration with the Kebele District Administration JRS selects children from destitute families to be granted access to the library.                

The gesture is meant to help refugees feel safe and welcomed in local communities by fostering positive inter-community relationships and local integration. At the same time JRS believes that extending the library services to the local community enables both the locals and the refugees to know each other better and celebrate diversity. It will bring the two communities closer together, offering the opportunity to reduce prejudices and let friendship grow. Thus, refugees can feel more secure.

Supporting refugee integration

JRS strongly believes that the lack of programmes which enhance the social integration of refugees by reducing language barriers and helping to adjust to cultural differences add to the stress refugees experience when trying to acculturate. Facing these major challenges without support does in some cases even lead to mental illness. Recognising the importance of creating a link with the local community, JRS took initiative. By enabling the local community to benefit from the library services the RCC wants to create a sense of belonging among the locals as well as help refugees integrate into the local culture.

JRS in Ethiopia now plays an active role in supporting refugee integration and in reducing misconceptions of locals towards refugees and asylum seekers. It is still to be seen which impact this approach will have on the long run






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