ZAMBIA has received over 300 Burundian asylum seekers over the last one month who have fled their country due to the recent political instability, Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson Moses Suwali has said.
Mr Suwali said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that the Office of the Commission for Refugees has in the last month received about 300 asylum seekers from Burundi.
“The Office of the Commission for Refugees, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), is at present screening the asylum seekers to ensure that only those that are genuine are granted refugee status,” Mr Suwali said.
According to UNHCR, an asylum seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.
Mr Suwali said those granted refugee status will be kept in camps such at Mayukwayukwa and Meheba in Western and North-Western provinces, respectively, while those whose claims will be rejected will be handed over to the Department of Immigration for further action.
“We have an obligation under the international laws to receive our fellow men, women and children who are forced to flee their countries because of violence. Therefore, we will continue receiving refugees,” Mr Suwali said.
More than 100,000 people have fled Burundi amid crises triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a controversial third term.
And Mr Suwali said World Refugee Day, which falls on June 20, will this year be commemorated on Friday June 19.
This year’s event will be commemorated under the theme: ‘Get to know a refugee’.