27,013 (UNHCR, April 2018)
Number of refugees
956,985  (WPP 2017)
0,473 (UNDP)
Human development index
7% (World Bank)
GDP growth
42% (World Bank)
Unemployment rate
23% (UNDP)
Extreme poverty rate



Djibouti has a tradition of hosting refugees spanning over four decades; throughout this time it has maintained an open-door policy for refugees. With a population of around 956,985 – 23% of whom live in extreme poverty [1], Djibouti currently hosts over 27,366 [2] refugees, most of whom come from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Yemen. Many refugees in Djibouti arrived more than 25 years ago; the vast majority live in one of three sites, and are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Djibouti is one of the fastest-growing economies in the East and Horn of Africa, though it relies significantly on foreign financing and direct investments, rents from foreign countries’ military bases, and port services. The International Monetary Fund estimated that real GDP grew by about 7.1% in 2017 [3]. Large-scale investment and new infrastructure projects underway provide opportunities to apply the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in areas where both refugees and host communities live, leading to economic growth and development in these areas, for the benefit of both populations, in the spirit of the CRRF.

Towards a more comprehensive refugee response

Building on the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the Government committed to include refugees in national education programmes and health systems at the Leaders’ Summit for Refugees (20 September 2016). In a promising step towards greater inclusion of refugees in local communities, the Government specifically pledged to:

  1. Adopt a new refugee law providing access to education, legal help and to the justice system for refugees.
  2. Give all refugee children access to accredited education through:


  • Training an adequate number of refugee teachers to teach refugees;
  • Establishing certificate equivalency for the English-language curriculum taught in Djibouti’s refugee sites and the translation of the Djiboutian curriculum into English;
  • Convening a regional refugee education meeting for refugee education technical experts to reach agreement on certificate equivalency;
  • Give all refugee access to the national health system.


Strategic roll-out of the CRRF

To fulfill the above pledges, the Government has created a Steering Committee, a multi-stakeholder mechanism designed to guide and facilitate the application of the CRRF. The Committee is led by the Ministry of Interior and is composed of other line ministries (Education, Health, Labour, Social Affairs including Djiboutian Agency of Social Development (ADDS),  among others), representatives from the refugees and host communities, donors, representatives from the national and international NGOs, IGAD, World Bank, UN Agencies and the Djiboutian Chamber of Commerce. The Steering Committee meets on a monthly basis to guide the application of the CRRF, mobilize resources for refugees and their hosts, and ensure the inclusion of refugees in development strategies and fora. The strategy driving the application of comprehensive responses for the period 2017-2022 is the National Action Plan, which was validated in December 2017 (accessible here). The national action plan also serves as the road map for the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration, to which Djibouti is a signatory. The Nairobi Declaration for Somali refugees was adopted by Heads of State of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) at their March 2017 Special Summit; they committed to pursuing a regional approach to the Somali refugee situation, which, having lasted 30 years, is one of the most protracted refugee crises in the world.

Key partnerships

As Djibouti continues to fulfill its pledges and pursues a more comprehensive approach to refugee situations, the Government is working towards refugee management policies that enhance the self-reliance of refugees while also responding to the development needs of the communities that host them. The government of Djibouti, with the support of UNHCR, humanitarian and development actors, the World Bank, donors and diplomatic missions in Djibouti, are developing concrete measures to achieve these aims. In 2017, Djibouti was confirmed as a beneficiary of a portion of the World Bank’s IDA-18 regional sub-window for refugees and host communities, a part-loan, part-grant financial facility that aims to support low-income countries that host refugees.

Djibouti is also one of the first countries where refugees are fully included in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF 2018-2022), ensuring that refugees are fully included and mainstreamed in the Government’s and the UN’s development efforts. Now that refugees are formally allowed to seek employment, UNHCR in Djibouti is working closely with the Djiboutian Chamber of Commerce in order to advocate for the inclusion of refugees in the workforce through the private sector.

In the context of CRRF, UNHCR operation continues to develop its partnership with line ministries. Several discussions and meetings have been ongoing to reinforce the collaboration between UNHCR and government authorities.

Latest key developments

  • Fulfilling its first Leaders’ Summit pledge in January 2017, the President promulgated a new refugee law aimed at strengthening the protection of refugees and safeguarding their fundamental rights, including access to education, employment and eventual naturalisation. The new law was applied through the signature of two decrees in December 2017; one on eligibility procedures, the other on the rights of refugees. This laudable and progressive legal framework is paving the way for greater inclusion of refugees in Djiboutian society. The Government, together with UNHCR’s support, is conducting an awareness-raising campaign on the new refugee law to convey the new rights of refugees. This sensitization exercise targets private sector businesses, line ministries and other key stakeholders including refugees and host communities.
  • In order to further advance the Government’s pledge on education, and following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MENFOP) and UNHCR, the Ministry has in September 2017 started to include refugees in the Plan d’Action National sur l’Education to ensure quality education for refugees. The Djiboutian education curriculum has been translated into English for the benefit of the Somali refugees (including Somalis, Ethiopians and Eritreans), and into Arab for refugees from Yemen.
  • In December 2017, Djibouti hosted the first Regional Conference on Refugee Education. The meeting brought together the Education Ministries of Member States, who agreed to improve and harmonise education standards for refugees, returnees and refugee-hosting communities across the region and to include refugees in education systems by 2020. These commitments on Education are reflected in the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education and its Plan of Action.
  • In January 2018, the Ministry of Health and UNHCR signed a cooperation agreement for the inclusion of refugees in national health systems. The objective is to give refugees the same healthcare and access to the same health services as Djiboutian nationals. Henceforth, the Ministry of Health is in charge of the healthcare for refugees.
  • In April 2018, UNHCR Djibouti, in partnership with the Protestant Church, launched a new program of vocational training for refugees. Altogether, 23 refugees have been enrolled in two training courses, namely building electricity and solar electricity. These six-month training courses will be divided in two main components: a theoretical aspect followed by a practical internship. It will allow refugees to strengthen their professional skills and to be competitive in the job market.


Operational and funding needs to deliver on a comprehensive refugee response

  1. Resettlement: The projected global resettlement needs for 2018 for refugees in Djibouti are about 8,000 persons (with a target of 200 persons).
  2. Support for establishment of complementary pathways: third-country governments – in cooperation and with the support of other stakeholders, such as the private sector, civil society and diaspora organizations – are encouraged to establish and expand complementary pathways for refugees living in CRRF roll-out countries. These pathways may include expanded family reunification and family-based mobility; labour and regional mobility schemes; scholarships and education programmes.
  3. Support towards broad-based and sustainable partnerships for operational delivery. This includes greater support to line ministries, local authorities and host populations from donors in-country and from Member States.
  4. Donors engaged in the development infrastructure in Djibouti should consider refugee-hosting areas as priority areas for the building of development infrastructure such as roads and pipelines.
  5. Funding: the Operating Plan for the refugee response in 2018 is US$7 million. This plan is currently funded at 8%.


CRRF Contact persons in the UNHCR Operation in Djibouti

Albert Katumba (

Capucine Jorda (

Vanessa J Panaligan (


[1] As at end 2016, source: World Bank

[2] As of 30th April 2018

[3] Ibid.

Current challenges

  • With less than 1,000km² of arable land and very little annual rainfall, Djibouti has a chronic food deficit and is wholly dependent on imports to meet its food needs. It is highly sensitive to external shocks such as spikes in food and fuel prices and natural disasters such as floods and droughts.
  • With the last population census having been undertaken in 2009, the majority of the Djiboutian population are living in urban areas, some of whom have unclear documentation statuses. The only reliable statistics are those related to registered refugee population.
  • Work opportunities in general are limited in the country and Djibouti’s continued hospitality towards refugees puts a strain on domestic resources.

Global events


12/06/2018: Fifth formal consultation on the draft global compact on refugees (Geneva)

20/06/2018: World Refugee Day

25/06/2018: UNHCR’s Annual Consultations with NGOs (Geneva)

03/07/2018: Sixth formal consultation on the draft global compact on refugees (Geneva)

19/09/2018: Second anniversary of the adoption of the New York Declaration


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Applying Comprehensive Responses (CRRF) in Africa, May 2018

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This dashboard provides an overview of key developments and next steps in the African countries that are applying the CRRF.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (1 month ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (1 month ago )

Applying Comprehensive Responses (CRRF) in Africa, January 2018

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This dashboard provides an overview of key developments and next steps in the African countries that are applying the CRRF.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (2 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (2 months ago )

La mise en pratique de la Déclaration de New York : comment le Cadre d’action global pour les réfugiés (CRRF) est appliqué, Février 2018

Djibouti | CRRF explainers
31.94 KB

Appliquer le Cadre d’action global pour les réfugiés (CRRF) - Importance de la Déclaration de New York - Mise en œuvre du Cadre d’action global pour les réfugiés.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (2 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (2 months ago )

Djibouti Plan of Action on Regional Refugee Education in IGAD member States (Annex to Djibouti Declaration)

Somali Situation Djibouti Ethiopia Kenya | Action plans
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Hosted by the Government of the Republic of Djibouti, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convened a regional ministerial meeting on the theme of education in Djibouti on the 14th of December 2017, which was undertaken in collaboration with the UNHCR, the European Union, and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). This Action Plan is Annex to the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education, the outcome of the regional conference which was signed by all IGAD member States.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (2 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (2 months ago )

Djibouti Declaration on Regional Conference on Refugee Education in IGAD Member States (December 2017)

Djibouti Somali Situation Ethiopia Uganda Kenya | Declarations
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The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convened a regional ministerial meeting in Djibouti, which was undertaken in collaboration with the UNHCR, the European Union, and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) on Regional Quality Education Standards and Inclusion into National Systems for refugee children in line with CRRF, SDG 4 and Agenda 2063 on Education. Annex to the Declaration is the Djibouti Plan of Action on Refugee Education in IGAD member States, available from this portal as well.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (2 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (2 months ago )

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