GOVERNMENT says 51,000 refugees out of the 300,000 that Zambia has hosted are yet to return to their respective countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Minister of Home Affairs Ngosa Simbyakula said the 51,000 refugees, mainly from Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia are still being hosted in Zambia and have been generously embraced by the local community.
Dr Simbyakula said this yesterday when he launched the refugee awareness week leading to the commemoration of the World Refugee Day which falls on June 20.
In Zambia, this year’s World Refugee Day will be commemorated under the theme: `50 years of hospitality- offering a new beginning’.
Dr Simbyakula said Government will continue to provide hope and basic requirements to asylum seekers and refugees to enable them start a new life.
“Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement in Western Province is testament to this history, having been established in 1966 making it the oldest refugee settlement in Africa.
“Over the years, Zambia has experienced repeated and sustained mass influx of refugees and has provided a safe haven. This exemplary hospitality shown by our people must indeed be applauded,” Dr Simbyakula said.
He, however, cited human trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence as some of the challenges that the country has continued to tackle through the regional approach within the framework of the SADC sub-region.
Dr Simbyakula called for enhanced international solidarity and cooperation for the protection of refugees and assistance to local communities that host them.
“For us in Zambia, this is more critical as we have embarked on the local integration of former Angolan refugees, a programme which requires international financing for its success,” Dr. Simbyakula said.
Zambia Daily Mail