THE number of asylum seekers from Burundi into Zambia has grown to 570 since the turmoil that erupted this year over that country’s President Pierre Nkurunziza’s successful bid for a third term in office.
Home Affairs Minister Davies Mwila said in an interview in Lusaka that the Burundians had continued to troop into the country even after Mr Nkurunziza’s inauguration last month.
Mr Mwila, however, said the inflows were lower than the figures recorded after the confusion surrounding Mr Nkurunziza’s bid erupted in May.
“We now have 570 (Burundians) in the country and 300 of them have been accommodated at Maheba refugee settlement in North-Western Province.
“However, none of them has been granted refugee status as they are being thoroughly screened to ascertain that they are genuine refuge seekers,” Mr Mwila said.
He said the Government was working closely with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) to see how best the Burundians could be accommodated as Zambia upheld international treaties which guaranteed the protection of refugees.
Mr Mwila said hence, there were no immediate plans to extradite the Burundians back to their home country and that the screening of others outside Maheba was still ongoing in Lusaka before resettlement.
Thousands of Burundians were displaced following the turmoil surrounding President Nkurunziza’s third term bid, also marred by a failed coup by army General Godefroid Niyombare who was later apprehended.