Ethiopia: refugees share stories, express concerns with top UN official
11 March 2016

Refugees meet Mogens Lykketoft at the JRS Refugee Community Centre in Addis Ababa. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Addis Ababa, 11 March 2016 – The Jesuit Refugee Service was honoured to receive the President of United Nations General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, at the JRS Refugee Community Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week.

Forced migrants from Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen told Mr Lykketoft stories of their remarkable journeys to safety in Addis Ababa and expressed the hardships that come with urban refugee life, particularly related to restrictions on employment. 

"I will bring your stories back with me to the United Nations. But I can assure you that your situation and problems are known and are at the very core of what we at the UN are trying to deal with better," Mr Lykketoft said.

The JRS centre offers a unique communal space for urban refugees from across Africa and the Middle East to congregate, learn English and computer skills, play sports and music, and receive counselling and day care services as well as emergency assistance for new arrivals.

"We were very honoured to host Mr Lyyketoft and to allow refugees to share their inspiring stories and important messages with him. This is the only centre for refugees in Addis Ababa, and we feel the space we allow them to grow and learn is invaluable," said Atakelt Tesfay SJ, JRS Ethiopia Director. 

Ethiopia currently hosts more than 700,000 refugees, more than any other African country. While much of today's humanitarian funding and media attention is focused on displacement to Europe, 86 percent of forced migrants are living in developing countries. More than half of refugees globally reside in urban centres.

As wars wage on in countries throughout the Global South and funding and space needed to accommodate hundreds of people in refugee camps becomes scarcer, these numbers of forcibly displaced in urban hubs of developing countries will only rise. JRS hopes that through concerted effort with humanitarian partners and governments, the space for urban refugees to not only survive, but thrive, in urban communities will continue to open.

For more information:

Angela Wells

Regional Communications Officer

Jesuit Refugee Service Eastern Africa

Skype: angela.wells5

Phone: +254 722788814

Press Contact Information
Angela Wells
+254 20 3874152