Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) AAU Launches a Research Centre for Forced Displacement and Migration Studies

Addis Ababa University (AAU), College of Education and Behavioural Studies launched a new research center entitled “Research Chair on Forced Displacement and Migration Studies” on the workshop held at Capital Hotel and Spa on the 17th of November 2022 .

The Research Chair is the first in its kind in Ethiopia and was established with the support of International Development Research Center (IDRC) under the project, Strengthening Knowledge, Evidence and Leadership in the Global South in Forced Displacement-Focus on East Africa.

The Research Chair has been targeted to examine the concern of forced displacement and migration on selected thematic areas in Ethiopia with a main objective of conducting research to generate local knowledge, engage in capacity building, policy influence and community outreach.

Mitike Molla (PhD), the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer of AAU, on her opening speech said that forced displacement has become a common phenomenon among global communities as people forced to leave their homes and everything behind due to war, conflict, terrorist attack, climate change and other affecting factors.

According to Dr. Mitike, Ethiopia is one of the victims of forced displacement as well as healthy labor force migration within both rural and urban citizens looking for livelihoods, smuggling and trafficking. “According to UNHCR there were 2.7 million internally displaced people in Ethiopia due to the conflict alone that has affected the country’s economic, political, cultural and psycho-social foundation and landscape apart from other things,” she added.

Dr. Mitike stated that the established Research Chair is very timely and essential to address the issue in a structured and institutionalized fashion and will be devoted to produce locally relevant evidence for forced displacement to form policy and practice scientific research. Capacity building of the practitioners, researchers and policy implementers will be the Chair’s activities in order to provide standard service for forcedly displaced people and migrants, she elaborated.

AAU is committed to make the new Research Chair a dependable research center and will support to make it one of the centers of excellence in the Horn and East Africa on forced displacement and migration,” she insisted

Yekoyealem Desie (PhD), Dean for College of Education and Behavioral Studies at AAU, said that the number of forcibly displaced persons, IDPs, refugees, and migrants is at its peak in recorded human history today. The vast majority of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people live in developing countries, with East Africa being the leading region and Ethiopia as the hotspot, he added.

Though the number of forcibly displaced people and refugees is increasing year after year at a disturbing rate in Ethiopia, our knowledge about their livelihoods, rights, education, psychosocial and mental health needs, resilience and coping strategies, and rehabilitation is very minimal,” he said.

According to Dr. Yekeyealem, a group of researchers from different departments in the College of Education and Behavioral Studies, and the College of Social Sciences have come up with a promising project of establishing this Research Chair at this critical time when Ethiopia has had a huge number of refugees and IDPs throughout its history and is drafting policies on migration and related matters.

He further noticed that IDP, refugee, and migration-related issues are now not only challenges but also developmental concerns for the government. “The grand vision of Ethiopia can never be realized without responsibly and professionally addressing the migration, refugee, and IDP sectors,” he underscored.

Dr. Yekoyealem finally congratulated the project teams and partners for the successful inauguration of the Center and hoped it will evolve itself into an interdisciplinary and autonomous national research center in Ethiopia.

Abebaw Minaye (PhD), the Chairperson and other team members briefly presented the goals, activities and thematic areas for the Study Center followed by strongly engaged discussions with invited key stakeholders as well as practitioners working on forced displacement, refugee and migration issues.