Addis Ababa – Last week JRS officially inaugurated its Child Protection Centre in Addis Ababa. The centre is the first of its kind and has been operating since July. It provides a comprehensive child protection response to unaccompanied and vulnerable refugee children through various activities.
“The activities that have been provided in the centre transformed my life for the better,” says Rhoda, a refugee child invited to speak at the inauguration ceremony. The centre caters to the diverse needs of children including learning, playing, and psychosocial support. Not only is it a safe space for children to play and learn, but it also facilitates vocational and life skills training, livelihood support activities, and Amharic and English language classes. It also guarantees quality case management, from identification and registration, to assessment, and counseling – there are also procedures to follow-up and monitor children at specific protection risks.
Given its location, it is easily accessible from all the different refugee settlements in the city, particularly for Eritrean refugee communities, who make up the majority of the urban caseload.
The child protection centre financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation through UNHCR. Many people attended the inauguration ceremony last week, including his Excellency Ambassador Daniel Hunn, Switzerland Ambassador, Mr. Marc De Santis, the Head of Swiss Development Cooperation Agency, Ato Fiseha Meseret, representatives from Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA), and representatives from many INGOs as well as refugee leaders and various refugee community representatives.
“It takes a whole village to raise a child” quoted Mulugeta W/Eyesus, Director of JRS Ethiopia, calling upon all partners to work together and share responsibilities to ensure a safe environment for proper upbringing and overall wellbeing of children. The protection of children has become an urgent challenge given the growing number of urban refugees living in Addis Ababa, particularly in Eritreans communities with the absence of such a protection tool.
Swiss Ambassador Daniel Hunn regarded the Ethiopian government’s open policy for refugees as exemplary and supportive, and underlined the timely opening of JRS Child Protection Centre to respond to specific needs of vulnerable children with an increased protection and support system, in large cities like Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian Government’s representative mentioned that protecting and assisting refugee communities in general, and unaccompanied and separated children, is an inherent part of Ethiopian ancient history. Ato Fiseha reassured all that the Ethiopian government will maintain the longstanding open border asylum policy to refugees coming to Ethiopia.
During the inauguration ceremony, the refugee community presented various entertaining performances, including traditional music and dance from diverse nationalities, drama by the Eritrean youth group, and some vibrant dances from the Great Lakes region.