President Edgar Lungu has warned refugees to be law abiding and not bring lawlessness in the country or they risk being jailed.
And President Lungu has appealed for support from the international community in handling the crisis.
Speaking when he checked on the refugee crisis at Kenani Refugee Transit Center in Nchelenge district of Luapula Province today, President Lungu welcomed the refugees but warned them to be law abiding.
“To the refugees, I urge you to feel at home. We will do everything possible to make your stay as comfortable as possible and assist you to become productive and self reliant. You must be peace loving people. That is why you ran away from lawlessness in Congo DR. I expect you to be law abiding in Zambia. Don’t bring the lawlessness from Congo which you have run away from, here. You have run away from lawlessness, so don’t bring lawlessness here. We have laws which should be followed by all of us here. This is what humanity expects you to reciprocate to the love that Zambians have bestowed upon you by hosting you. When you break the law, we will not send you back to Congo, we will send you to jail. And when you finish serving jail that is when you will go back Congo,” President Lungu said.
And President Lungu appealed for support from the international community.
“Kenani is not a permanent place of settlement, government has secured land where you will be settled to restart your lives. As we prepare to relocate the new refugees from Kenani to a new permanent site, there is need for the international community to move to greater action to sustain the efforts that my government with the support of its partners has made so far to stabilize this action. The needs of the refugees and their host communities are many. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other partners can only continue to provide assistance with the support of the international community. I am therefore asking for the international community to help the UNHCR and UN and the Zambian government to handle this situation. I know that some people will be saying that 6,000 and 10,000 is a small number compared to humanitarian crisis elsewhere where there are large numbers of refugees but look at the people of Luapula, look at the people of Zambia, you will appreciate that this is a big challenge,” he said.
“The refugee crisis from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been worsening since September 2017 and we fear this could lead to a major humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border. We therefore call for increased support from all.”
Meanwhile, President Lungu assured refugees that government had put up measures to sustain their health.
“Let me assure the refugees that your health is my priority. We have put in measures to protect you from water borne diseases, we have set up testing and treatment facilities for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. And further I have mobilized some drugs and medical supplies from well wishers to help reinforce the efforts of the district health authorities in responding to the possible disease outbreak associated with mass populations. I can only appeal further to say that what we have done as a government is merely talking and more support is required in this and other areas of healthcare,” said President Lungu.
“I can only encourage you to access these various health services which we are providing and also taking note of your comments as we go on to make sure that we communicate. People have already told us that there is language breakdown between the medical service providers and the refugees, I’m sure we will find interpreters and translators to help you access the medicine. Let me also encourage the refugee community leaders to interact with our leaders and authorities so that we are able to meet your needs in the most appropriate manner.”