United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) country representative Pierrine Aylara has praised Zambia for hosting a large number of refugees and asylum-seekers from neighbouring countries.
Speaking at the National Stakeholders Consultations on Multi-year, multi-partner and Solutions Strategy in Lusaka, Tuesday, Aylara said Zambia’s continued quality leadership and efforts in ensuring that refugees and asylum-seekers are able to live dignifying lives should be emulated by other countries in the region.
She said the dedication and support from the people of Zambia to embrace refugees seeking peace and security showed how peaceful the country was compared to other countries on the continent.
“I would like to thank the government of Zambia for its continued quality leadership and effort to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers are able to live dignifying lives in Zambia. I would also like to recognize the dedication and support from the people of Zambia to embrace the refugees who have come to search for peace and security. Zambia has a long-lasting history of providing a national protection solution for refugees who have been persecuted in the region and beyond. The country has now been struck by huge numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers from other countries due to the political instability; countries such as Burundi and DRC,” Aylara said.
She noted that as long as there were no concrete political solutions to the difficulties neighbouring countries, such as Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) face, citizens from these countries would continue to see Zambia as a safe haven for their lives.
“This is a reminder to all of us that as long as there are no concrete political solutions to the difficulties that our neighbours Burundi and DRC face, women, girls, boys and men will continue to see Zambia as a safe haven for their lives,” she noted.
And Aylara disclosed that Zambia was currently hosting about 74,000 refugees, including asylum-seekers.
“Zambia is currently hosting abut 74,000 refugees all together and these includes asylum-seekers from Angola, Burundi, DRC and Rwanda. About 45,000 are refugees and 83 per cent of these are from neighbouring DRC, representing about 21,000 who sought asylum in Zambia in the last 18 months. While more than 10,000 refugees have been settled in Mantapala in Nchelenge District in Luapula Province and 31,000 of them have settled in Kalumbila District. 20,000 in Kaoma District and over 14,000 in urban areas, such as Lusaka and Ndola,” Aylara added.
Meanwhile, Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs Abdon Mawere said government was committed in ensuring that it provided a peaceful environment for asylum-seekers and refugees.
“The Zambian government will continue to provide a peaceful environment to ensuring that we take care and meeting the needs of our friends who are asylum-seekers and refugees. The government is committed in ensuring that we take extra care of our beloved friends,” said Mawere.