SPEECH BY UNHCR REPRESENTATIVE, Ms. LAURA LO CASTRO, READ ON HER BEHALF BY MR PETER JANSSEN, UNHCR SENIOR PROTECTION OFFICER, ON THE OCCASION OF THE JAPANESE REFUGEE AND LOCAL INTEGRATION FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENT CEREMONY
TUESDAY 24 March, 2015
MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS HEADQUARTERS
THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS, HONOURABLE DAVIS MWILA, MP
THE JAPANESE AMBASSADOR TO ZAMBIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, MR. KOISHI KOINUMA,
SENIOR GOVERNMENT AND OTHER STAFF REPRESENTED HERE TODAY,
MEMBERS OF THE PRESS,
DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
On behalf of UNHCR, I wish to express our profound thanks to the Government and people of Japan for their continued unwavering support to our global operations in general and to the Zambia refugee programme in particular. I wish also to thank the Government of Zambia for its decades long tradition of receiving and caring for refugees, and most recently its commitment to locally integrate Angolans and Rwandans whose refugee status has come to an end.
The Japanese Government has been supporting UNHCR’s work in Zambia since 2013, and this financial contribution of US$ 1.5 million to support the Government of Zambia and UNHCR’s refugee and local integration operations, which the Ambassador has announced today, is a clear demonstration of Japan’s commitment to the cause of refugees and the quest for solutions to their predicament.
As UNHCR, we rely on funds from the international community to implement various programmes, and this is certainly the case in Zambia, where the Government has embarked on local integration of former Angolan refugees. It is through support such as that from Japan that we are able to achieve our primary objectives of protecting and providing durable solutions for refugees, former refugees and to support the host community.
UNHCR in Zambia requires an overall budget of US$21 million for the local integration programme. So this funding will go a long way in supporting our operations in Zambia covering areas such as basic needs and essential services, which include primary health care, access to basic education and health, and access to water.
The funds will also be used to promote and support self-reliance and livelihood activities, in the two refugee settlements of Meheba and Mayukwayukwa and the resettlement areas.
As the majority of the refugees, former refugees and the Zambian host community are women and children, specific attention will go towards issues related to gender, maternal reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and child protection activities.
Your excellency, I would fail in my duties if I did not recognize the enormous support from your Embassy staff in working on our funding request, which has culminated into this event today. Your Government, through its Embassy here in Lusaka, has in the past supported projects like Tree for Life, meant to protect the environment in refugee settlements. Furthermore, your Embassy, together with JICA, has in the past actively supported activities related to the Zambia Initiative. All these efforts are a clear indication of the Japanese Government’s commitment towards not only the refugees but also to the host communities in Zambia.
The local integration program in 2015 critically needs additional support and we hope that other co-operating partners will be following the example of Japan, the United States of America and Canada, who have so far provided resources.
Honorable Minister, UNHCR is also appreciative of the excellent working relations it has with the Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and other partner ministries in our joint efforts to protect and care for refugees.
I wish to applaud the Government of Zambia for its continued open-door policy to asylum-seekers and the pursuit of durable solutions exemplified through its commitment to the local integration of 10, 000 eligible former Angolan refugees. We are confident that the Government will soon approve the criteria for the local integration of Rwandan refugees, that will see up to 4, 000 of them locally integrated eventually. The Government has continued to receive new arrivals, with over two thousand in 2014 from mainly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As UNHCR, we look forward to continue this positive and cordial working relationship, especially as we continue implementing activities related to the refugees and local integration of Angolans, and seek solutions for those who may not be eligible, by assisting them to voluntarily repatriate.
Honourable Minister, as you are aware, the current phase of the local integration is supposed to end by the close of 2016. Our appeal to the Government is to ensure the targeted number of eligible Angolans receive residency permits.
I wish to close by again thanking the Government of Japan for the funding and assure the Government and people of Zambia that UNHCR will continue to mobilize resources to support both the refugees, former refugees and the Zambians in refugee hosting communities.