Newly-appointed UNHCR Representative to Zambia, Pierrine Aylara, has assumed official duties after presenting her letters of credence in Lusaka to Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Chalwe Lombe, on Friday 4th August, 2017.

Aylara, a Benin-Swiss national, prior to her appointment to Zambia served in various field locations and at UNHCR’s Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to UNHCR communications manager Kelvin Shimo, Aylara has also held several stints at senior level within UNHCR in Mozambique and Angola as Representative.

During her stewardship of UNHCR in Zambia and in fulfilling UNHCR’s mandate of protecting and finding durable solutions for refugees, Aylara said she looks forward to a sustained and effective working relationship with the Government of Zambia, members of the diplomatic community, UN Agencies, non-governmental organisations and all other major stakeholders and interlocutors in the refugee programme in Zambia including the civil society.

“Am very excited to work in this great country, Zambia, with a rich history of hosting refugees and focusing on solutions for them.” she explained.

Ambassador Lombe, who exceptionally received the letters of credence from the new UNHCR Representative, said the Zambian Government remained committed to the ideals of an open-door policy to refugees, and pursuit of peace and durable solutions for displaced persons whom the country has hosted since independence. Ambassador Lombe applauded the good working relationships between the Zambian Government and UNHCR, exemplified by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s commitments at the United Nations General Assembly High-level Summit on Addressing Large Movement of Refugees and Migrants last year and the Head of State’s recent meeting with UNHCR High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, during the Solidarity Summit on Refugees hosted in Kampala, Uganda.

Aylara takes over from Ms Laura Lo Castro, who completed her assignment at the end of June 2017.

Zambia currently hosts some 58,000 refugees and others of concern, mostly from Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Uganda. The vast majority reside in two refugee settlements – Mayukwayuka in Western Province and Meheba in North Western Province, while others live in urban areas or are self-settled in various locations.