4000Angolan refugees expected to acquire resident permits
Solwezi, June 24, ZANIS ——– About 4,000 out 8,000 Angolans living at Maheba refugee camp in Solwezi district whose refugee status ended last year have collected forms from Ministry of Home Affairs to apply for residence permits in Zambia.
Maheba Refugee Officer Joseph Musonda disclosed this to ZANIS in Solwezi over the weekend.
Mr Musonda told ZANIS that there is a total of 10,000 Angolans whose refugee status expired last year but are still living in Zambia waiting for integration.
He said 8,000 of these Angolans are living at Maheba refugee camp in Solwezi while the remaining 2,000 are at Mayukwakwa in Kaoma district.
He said so far a total of 1,500 out of the 4,000 who have picked up forms to apply for resident permits have been screened by security officials and 245 of them have been issued with alien registration cards by the department of National Registration.
Mr Musonda explained that issuing alien cards to former refugees is the first step being taken in the normal process of moving the Angolans from refugee status to Zambian citizens.
He said that after getting the alien cards, the Angolans will be required to apply for resident permits and that only about 8,000 of these former refugees will have their applications approved.
He mentioned that although government has been generous to these former refugees, it has however not opened the gates to all of them to remain in Zambia as only those who arrived between 1966 and 1986 together with their children born in Zambia will be eligible to be reintegrated into the Zambian community.
“Close to 2,000 who arrived after 1986 will not qualify but those with money can apply for investment permits while professionals like teachers can also ask for work permits,” Mr Musonda said.
Mr Musonda also said that the United High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has set aside undisclosed amounts of money to government to enable the former refugees to process documents that will allow them to stay in Zambia and get integrated.
He said normally a resident permit costs KR4,500 but the former Angolan refugees to be reintegrated into the country will only pay KR1,500 for the permits and Kr51.00 for the alien identity cards.
And Solwezi UNHCR officer-in-charge Towa Chaiwila said the refugee status of 3,500 Rwandans at Maheba will cease on June 30 this year.
Ms Chaiwila said negotiations are already underway for voluntary repatriation but UNHCR is also recommending to government the reintegration of some who will have genuine reasons not to return to Rwanda.
ZANIS/ENDS/IMD/SM ——- DRY