A high-level Regional Conference on Refugee Education was held in Djibouti on 12 December 2017 under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Among attendees were the Prime Minister of Djibouti and Ministers, the High Commissioner, the Executive Secretary of IGAD, the Special Envoy for the Somali Situation, and the Regional Refugee Coordinator and Special Advisor to the High Commissioner for South Sudan. The Conference brought together regional policymakers, academics, educationists, bilateral partners and civil society members from different IGAD countries, in line with the CRRF.
The objectives of the Conference were to:
Harmonize practices on quality education across the IGAD Region;
Align education practices in the region with the New York Declaration and the CRRF by ensuring inclusive and universal quality education for all children (nationals and refugees) living in IGAD member countries, achieve SDG4 and Agenda 2063 on education, including taking into account the needs of local children in locations of refugee settlement, and exploring opportunities for synergies between humanitarian and development actors;
Establish a system for recognition of Education Diplomas across IGAD Member States; and
Explore higher education opportunities for refugees both in hosting countries and in third countries interested in supporting refugee access to higher education.
As an outcome of the meeting, IGAD Member States established a strong foundation for improving standards not only for refugees, but for returnees and refugee-hosting communities. Commitments made by IGAD countries were endorsed at the Ministerial level and resulted in the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education and its Plan of Action.
One of the key developments of the Regional Conference was the announcement by the Minister of Interior to abolish “refugee camps” in Djibouti in favour of “villages” or “settlements” where refugees enjoy freedom of movement and where they peacefully co-exist alongside host communities.
Following the Conference, the High Commissioner’s delegation, accompanied by the Special Envoy for the Somalia situation, visited Al Addeh and Markazi camps to meet with refugees and visit schools and health facilities.