Amnesty International has commended the Zambian government for locally integrating 4,000 Rwandan refugees into local communities.
Amnesty Associate Member on the Refugee Help Desk, Rhoda Nsama, said government’s decision to integrate the refugees was a move in the right direction after hosting over 6,000 of them for the last 19 years.
Speaking at a tree presentation and planting ceremony at parliament building today, Ambassador Nsama said her organisation was grateful to government and Members of Parliament for the gesture of integrating the refugees.
The former Rwandan Refugees donated seedlings of trees to MPs to be planted in all the 150 constituencies in Zambia, and will embark on planting 4,000 trees every year in the next five years as part of their contribution to improve the environment.
And receiving the trees on behalf of the MPs, Chairperson of the Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs Ronnie Shikapwashya thanked the Rwandan Community for the gesture of supporting the country’s environment.
Lieutenant General Shikapwashya who is also Kembe Member of Parliament said Zambia, like many other countries suffers from deforestation. He expressed hope that each MP will plant the trees in their constituencies.
The former refugees have since appealed to the Forestry Department to identify and allocate areas where they can plant trees for the next five years.
Chairperson of Ex- Rwandan Refugees Community in Zambia Egide Kazuba Rwasibo said all the 4000 Rwandese will plant a tree each year under the theme “Cut 1 Plant 2”, and hoped that Zambians will emulate and appreciate the tree planting project.
Mr. Rwasibo noted that hosting large numbers of refugees has had an impact on the country’s environment and thus remedial measures needed to be taken to help the situation.
He also thanked the government for the humanitarian gesture of integrating them into the local communities and hoped that the peace and freedom they have been enjoying will be sustained.
The former refugees presented certificates and books on the environment to be given to each MP.