Over 500 Congolese asylum-seekers have fled into Zambia within a day, the biggest single entry of new arrivals in three years, according to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR).

And the UNHCR says as of 31 July 2017, the total population of Congolese refugees and asylum seekers in Zambia stands 25, 063.

The 500 Congolese asylum-seekers were received on Wednesday 30 August 2017 through Chiengi, Kamponge and other border entry points in the north. The new arrivals are in addition to a sporadic and continuous stream that has characterised refugee inflows from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo into Zambia over the past three years.

UNHCR Representative to Zambia, Pierrine Aylara, confirmed the arrival of the over 500 arrivals, saying there were more refugees being hosted by local communities.

“The agency, working with local authorities, is conducting a head-count to ascertain exact figures as the new arrivals are entering through different border entry points with some un-manned,” Aylara said.

“We have continuously been receiving a steady inflow of new arrivals from the DRC for some time now. UNHCR together with the host Government and the Zambia Red Cross Society, are doing everything possible in our limited capacity to protect and assist the new arrivals pending durable solutions. The limited resources available makes it challenging for us to effectively respond to the silent emergency. We call upon our generous donors to assist with additional funds to enable us address the basic humanitarian needs of new arrivals” said Aylara.

From 1st January to 31st August 2017, over 3, 000 asylum-seekers from the DRC have been received in Zambia cumulatively, with August alone accounting for about 1,000. In 2016, some 2, 893 Congolese asylum-seekers were recorded. Kaputa, Mpulungu, Nsumbu, in Northern Zambia, Kipushi, Kakoma, in Norther Western Province and Kasumbalesa, on the Copperbelt, have been the entry points.

As of 31 July 2017, the total population of Congolese in Zambia (asylum-seekers and refugees) was 25, 063.

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.