The number of refugees fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and being hosted at the Kenani transit centre in the north of Zambia has now passed the 10,000 mark since August this year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

And UNHCR says it needs more funding to accelerate the relocation of refugees from Kenani, which is the Zambia’s largest refugee transit facility currently hosting 10,065 registered Congolese arrivals.

“We passed the 10,000 mark on Saturday, and more Congolese refugees are coming in from Chiengi. While for the whole country, numbers of new Congolese arrivals are nearing 14,000,” UNHCR representative to Zambia Ms Pierrine Aylara said.

“The Nchelenge District Administration has agreed to expand the Kenani transit centre, by providing more space. The newly allocated space can now accommodate an additional 1,000 refugee families/5,000 individuals as efforts are being mobilised to open a new permanent refugee settlement within the coming weeks,” UNHCR Head of Communications Kelvin Shimo added in a statement.

“Meanwhile, the Government, UNHCR and partners, are working hand in hand to have Congolese refugees at Kenani transit centre as well as new arrivals relocated within weeks to the new permanent refugee settlement – called Mantapala – within Nchelenge District, with more space for improved facilities.”

And Shimo pleaded for funding from humanitarian agencies.

“Limited funding might hamper the timely relocation of refugees. Additional funds are urgently required by humanitarian and development partners to repair the main access road to Mantapala and to open inner roads within the new refugee settlement. The funds are further required to set up basic infrastructures such as health, water and sanitation and primary education facilities as well as other basic amenities,” stated Shimo.

“While the majority of Congolese arrive through the Chiengi border area, then relocated to Kenani, some are crossing into Zambia through other entry points, such as Nsumbu, Kaputa, Nakonde and Mpulungu in Northern, Kapushi and Kakoma, in North Western and Kasumbalesa and Sakania, on the Copperbelt province. These are relocated to Maheba and Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlements.”

Some 13, 924 Congolese have fled to Zambia since the beginning of 2017 through various entry points.