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DRC Ethiopia initiates discussions to enhance IDP’s access to civil documentation and legal identity

The Danish Refugee Council's (DRC) advocacy efforts inspire an initiative to enhance internally displaced persons' (IDPs) access to civil documents in Mekelle, Tigray. The initiative, which was conceived during a workshop organized by the DRC and Mekelle University, aims to promote sustainable access to civil documents and legal identity.

Posted on 08 May 2024

A pattern of exclusion from accessing identification cards and registration of life events e.g., marriage, death, and birth has been identified among internally displaced persons in Mekelle, Tigray, according to field observations, a rapid assessment and a review of relevant literature by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). The lack of identity documents presents several challenges, including restrictions on freedom of movement, increased vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking, and the possibility of arbitrary detention due to the inability to proof one's identity.

Access to legal identity and civil documents are also a pre-requisite to exercise basic rights, receive basic services or humanitarian assistance and enter into legal transactions such as opening a bank account or a phone line.

With the aim of achieving durable solutions for IDPs, DRC Ethiopia organized a workshop generously supported by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), DRC and the Legal Aid Center of the Mekelle University on 23 April 2024 in Makelle. The workshop brought together key actors from the interim government authorities, civil society, UN agencies and international NGOs. Participants engaged in a robust discussion aimed at identifying pressing issues confronting IDPs as a result of lack of civil documentation and exploring sustainable solutions to address them.

Following the workshop, an ad hoc committee has been set-up to carry the recommendations forward. Led by Mekelle University legal aid center, members of the committee include representatives from the Tigray Bureau of Justice, Tigray Prosecutors Association, Tigray Statistics and Vital Events Registration Agency, Tigray Regional Bureau of the Federal Vital Events and Registration Agency, UNHCR and IOM.

The representatives of the regional Bureau of Justice and the Prosecutors' Association expressed their gratitude to DRC for bringing the matter to their attention and pledged to do everything in their power to ensure that it becomes a top priority for the regional legal system.

DRC emphasized the significance of collective action in addressing the myriads of challenges that IDPs face, including a lack of documentation and identity. Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also acknowledged the gravity of the situation and expressed their readiness to support efforts to improve access to legal identity and civil documents for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

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