State approves 6000 Rwandese Rwandese refugee requests

Rwandan refugees
Rwandan refugees

GOVERNMENT has approved 6000 applications from Rwandese refugees for local integration.
Ministry of Home Affairs Commissioner for Refugees Jacob Mphepo said the permits had already been approved and Government was just waiting for passports for the refugees from the Rwandese Government.
Mr Mphepo was answering questions at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) media workshop held in Lusaka early this week.
He said the Zambian Government had received cooperation from the donors who were assisting the country to handle the issue of refugees.
Mr Mphepo said that Government would in collaboration with UNHCR release a local refugee integration strategy on April 30, this year.
He, however, said although some refugees had committed some heinous crimes in their countries of origin, it was not Government’s intention to harbour such offenders.
‘‘Sometimes, it is not easy to tell whether a refugee has committed a crime or not but when  we are asked about such refugees, we cooperate and hand them over to be tried in other countries like Tanzania because here in Zambia we do not have the system to try them,’’ he said.
Mr Mphepo said so far about 10 Rwandese refugees had been extradited to their country to face charges for various heinous offences committed during the 1994 genocide.
On some Rwandese refugees declining to be repatriated, Mr Mphepo said Government did not understand why they were insisting on staying in Zambia but advised them to follow the due process of the law.
‘‘As a country we will only accommodate genuine and deserving refugees.
We want to promote the repatriation process to Angola,’’ he said.
UNHCR representative Laura Lo Castro said this year the UNHCR’s budget for Zambia was US$3.5million for the regular programme of assisting the remaining 52,000 refugees in Maheba and Mayukwayukwa refugee camps.
‘‘We have received support from the Canadian Government, the European Union. The Japanese Government also gave UNHCR US$3m for operations in Zambia,’’ she said.
Ms Lo Castro said the UNHCR was determined to find durable solutions to the plight of refugees.
She said the repatriation programme for refugees would continue and her organisation would continue to urge the refugees to consider going back home.