—Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Alexander Aleinikoff, has implored former Angolan refugees who have been locally integrated in Zambia to take advantage of integration process.
Mr Aleinikoff said the integration process is an important transition exercise for them to move from the status of being refugees to free residents in Zambia as it will enable them sustains their livelihood.
The Deputy High Commissioner said this at Meheba Refugee Settlement in Solwezi today when he addressed the refugees during the presentation of 231 passports and 64 letters of occupancy to some of the former Angolan refugees that have been locally integrated in the area.
He said the issuance of the passports and letters of occupancy of plots given to them is a very tangible example of the serious commitment the governments of Zambia and Angola attach to the success if the integration exercise.
Mr Aleinikoff said the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) will remain committed to providing necessary support to ensure that the integration exercise succeeds.
He also commended the Zambian government for accepting refugees who were running away from persecution in their own country.
Speaking at the same occasion, Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Nixon Chilangwa, advised the former Angolan refugees receiving resident permits in the country to abide by the laws of Zambia.
Mr Chilangwa warned that government will not hesitate to deport those that will decide to abrogate the laws of Zambia to Angola.
He has also cautioned Zambians against down treating the integrated Angolans but to treat them like any other person who has obtained Zambian residence.
The Deputy Minister appealed to the UNHCR to assist with all the necessary support towards the acceleration of the integration process, saying the two governments have commenced the un-irreversible process but what is required is the full support to accelerate the process.
Angolan Consul General, Antonio Alberto Sawimbo, assured that the Angolan government, working together with partners, is committed to see that the process succeeds and will provide every required support.
Mr Sawimbo cautioned the former Angolans who have been issued with the passports to safeguard them because anyone who loses it will be forced to travel all the way to Angola to have the lost passport re-issued.
Mr Aleinikoff, who is based in Geneva and his entourage were touring the Meheba refuge settlement to see for himself what is happening in the refugee camp.