Home Affairs Minister Ngosa Simbyakula says the country has recorded a significant reduction in the number of refugees in the country from over three hundred thousand in 2002 to the current fifty thousand.
Dr. Simbyakula said this is due to a successful implementation of the repatriation programme for Angolan and Congolese refugees who have gone back to their countries because of the prevailing peace in the region.
He said this in a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy Minister Nixon Chilangwa during the launch of the Strategic Framework for Local Integration in Zambia.
Dr. Simbyakula has commended the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other cooperating partners for their support towards the resettlement, repatriation programmes and the implementation of the strategic framework for the local integration of refugees in the country.
And UNHCR Resident Representative, Laura Lo Castro said the launch of the strategic framework is a clear manifestation of the commitment by the Zambian government and the traditional leadership in hosting the refugees in the country.
Ms Laura Lo Castro said one of the objectives of the local integration programme was to facilitate the legal integration of eligible former refugees through the issuance of residency status and ultimate citizenship for residence permits.
And Chief Mumema of North Western Province said there is need for Zambians to embrace the former refugees who have been integrated into the country saying they have found Zambia as their home because of the prevailing peace in the country.
“Do not be hostile to other human beings, no one enjoys to be a perpetual refugee hence let us give them an opportunity to enjoy their lives in this country because we will do injustice to them if we do not embrace them as part of us,” said Chief Mumena.