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Ethiopia has hosted substantial refugee populations since the 1980s. Due to the protracted nature of the conflicts in the refugees’ countries of origin, it is unlikely that most of them will be able to return home any time soon. In this context, it is imperative for the Ethiopian government to seek long-term solutions to hosting refugees, moving away from its long-standing system that restricts most refugees to camps with limited economic activity and toward a system that allows for greater refugee economic inclusion. Such a system would improve the lives of refugees, reduce reliance on aid, and boost economic activity in hosting regions.
This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers refugees face in Ethiopia to economic inclusion; the impacts of these barriers; and the steps that the government of Ethiopia, international organizations, donors, and the private sector could take to overcome them.