Reduction of refugees leads to decreased assistance


Lusaka : The reduction in the refugee’s population in the country, has lead to a decrease in the assistance rendered to the refugees still living in the camps, Government has revealed.

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Home Affairs Minister, Lt. Gen. Ronnie Shikapwasha, said the reduction has been drastic and has affected the quality of assistance rendered in the remaining camps.

With the children being the worst affected especially in the education and health delivery, Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha has since called on the international community not only to focus on repatriating refuges but also those that are still in the country.

He pointed out that there are still many refugees that have remained in the country inspite of the successful repatriation exercise.

The Minister was speaking when he officiated at Ecumenical Service in Commemoration of the World Refugee Day which falls today whose theme is “Unheard Voice of Refugee Children”.

Zambia has been host of many refugees running from civil strives in the neighbouring Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Since 2003 Zambia, in collaboration with host countries and with support from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), has repatriated over 75,000 refugees to their home countries.

Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said consultations are still going on in order to come up with a satisfactory conclusion of the repatriation exercise of the Rwandan refugees.

He added that following the restoration of peace in DRC, efforts are being made to scale up the repatriation of the remaining refugees.

“The repatriation exercise for Rwanda is still going on, and in relation to this exercise, only 189 Rwandans have gone from the time the exercise commenced in 2003,” he said.

He has commended the UNHCR, other international organisation and the host communities in Zambia for support to the vulnerable.

The minister who also gave a word of hope to the refugees, urged them to uphold and respect the laws of the land.

UNHCR Country Representative, Vedasto Mwesiga, assured the refugees of the organisation’s continued support.

Mr Mwesige said the UN agency has, with support from Zambia government and other donor communities, managed to provide support and resettle many refugees.

Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) Executive Director, Bishop Paul Mususu called for a lasting solution to conflicts on the continent.

Bishop Mususu stated that issues of refugees will continue to affect many countries as long as conflicts continue in some parts of the African continent.

He further added that the church should offer solace to the children when other systems have failed.