Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, has appealed for increased funding from humanitarian and development donor countries to support the refugees operation across the country in 2019.

Commissioner for Refugees in the ministry, Abdon Mawere, said in a statement that although there had been no major influx of refugees lately, the number of refugees in Zambia had gone up in the past two years with the number of new arrivals averaging 700 asylum seekers per month, fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Somalia and other countries.

Mawere stated that funding was required by the government, humanitarian and development actors like UNHCR and its partners, who include United Nations (UN) agencies as well as local and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), to provide critical humanitarian assistance to the refugees, as well as the host communities.

“Critical needs range from food, shelter, infrastructure, logistics, education, health and livelihoods in the newly established settlement of Mantapala – in Nchelenge, Luapula Province as well as the two old settlements of Meheba and Mayukwayukwa, plus Lusaka which also hosts over 16,000 of refugees and asylum seekers. So far, January, 2019 alone, a total of 1,162 refuges and asylum seekers have been received in Zambia comprising 1,056 from the DRC, 76 Burundi, 28 Somalis and the rest from other countries. In 2018, Zambia received a total 9,371 refugees, with the majority coming from the DRC – 7,978 and 1,036 from Burundi. The rest were from different countries,” Mawere explained.

“Zambia currently hosts 77,370 persons of concerns (51,371 refugees, 3,173 asylum seekers and 22,826 former refugees). The refugees and former refugees are hosted in Meheba, North-Western Province, Mayukwayukwa, in Western Province and Mantapala, in Luapula Province, as well as in transit centres in Makeni (Lusaka) and Northern and Luapula Provinces. The 2019 inter-agency Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for all humanitarian actors in Zambia’s Congolese response has a budget of US$77million support up to 72,000 Congolese by the end of the year.”

Mawere thanked the donors for their support towards refugees in Zambia and called them to increase their funding as he called upon others to come on board.

“UNHCR in Zambia has a budget of US$30.02 million, with US$1.14 million funded by the European Union (EU) and $500,000 received from the Government of Japan. The Government is grateful to the two donors and appreciates the continuous support of other traditional humanitarian and development donors, but I wish to call upon them to increase their contribution to assist us to fulfill our international obligation to give asylum to those who need it” appealed Mawere.