Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Joseph Malanji says Zambia has been implementing an open door asylum policy which has enabled thousands of asylum seekers and refugees to seek sanctuary in the country.
Speaking when he made an intervention on the Report of the Political and Humanitarian situation in Africa, during the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia today , Mr Malanji added that the number of asylum seekers and refugees entering Zambia has continued to increase.
He said as of 23rd January 2018, Zambia was host to sixty three thousand eight hundred and nine (63,809) refugees and persons mostly from the Great lakes region.
Mr Malanji also said many former refugees have opted to remain in Zambia under the local integration programme.
“About fifteen thousand former refugees are expected to benefit from local integration which has been offered by the government. This is in conformity with Zambia’s pledge in 2011 to find a durable solution to protracted refugee situations in the spirit of burden sharing”, Mr. Malanji said.
He said the Government of the Republic of Zambia had recently opened up another refugee settlement in the Northern part of Zambia in order to accommodate the growing number of refugees.
“The total number of refugees at the new camp was fourteen thousand and fifty three (14,053)as of 23rd January ,2018”.
He said the Zambian government has been mobilizing resources to support resettlement areas and surrounding communities.
Mr Malanji said the support was targeted mainly at infrastructure development such as roads, schools and health facilities in areas surrounding refugee camps.
He added that Zambia recognizes the security concerns and the economic strain that hosting a number of refugees entails.
“Even though the numbers hosted by Zambia from 1966 to date are small compared to other countries due to the conflict in some parts of Africa, the country stands ready to share its experiences and best practices with other countries”, Mr Malanji said .
The Minister emphasized the need for the international community to address the peace and security situation on the continent which he said has not been spared by human traffickers and smugglers.
He also called on the African Union to support countries that support large refugees populations at the expense of providing services to its citizens.
He further urged countries of origin for the migrants to apply their best efforts to bring the situation to normality.
Speaking earlier when she presented her report on the Humanitarian Situation in Africa, Commissioner of Political Affairs Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullah said there were initiatives that the African Union had put in place to tackle the problem of refugees on the continent.
She said it was unfortunate that the 70 percent of refugees were fleeing their countries as a result of war.
On the Army worms, the Commissioner disclosed that over 25 countries are experiencing the problem of army worms.
She said the problem of army worms on the continent if not well addressed has the capacity to undermine the continent’s food security.
First Secretary-Press & Tourism – Zambia Embassy, Addis Ababa