The Ministry of Home Affairs has been given strict instructions by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to ensure that the xenophobic attacks that occurred in Lusaka recently don’t ever happen again in Zambia, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Colonel Gerry Chanda has said.
Speaking on behalf of Home Affairs Minister Davis Minister during the commemoration of World Refuge Day (WRD) in Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement in Zambia’s Western Province town of Kaoma, Colonel Chanda said Zambia has become a rainbow nation, which has to respect diversity.
“I wish to underline that the Government strongly condemns the recent attacks on refugees witnessed in the densely populated communities of Lusaka. The President gave the Ministry strict instructions to ensure that such xenophobic attacks don’t happen again. Zambia has a high reputation in the international community and the Government will not allow a few criminally minded people to tarnish that image by engaging in xenophobic practices aimed at satisfying their personal desires. I wish to call for continued peace and co-existence,” said Colonel Chanda.
The Deputy Minister said some of the perpetrators of the xenophobic attacks in Lusaka are before the courts of law, and Government will ensure that justice prevails, at the same time also calling on all refugees and asylum-seekers to abide by the laws of Zambia.
Colonel Chanda announced that the Zambian Government has offered local integration to 15, 000 former Angolan and Rwandan refugees. A total of 1, 122 permits have been issued to former Angolan refugees, while 20 to Rwandans.
The Minister appealed to all former Rwandan refugees domiciled in Zambia who don’t want to apply for local integration, to set aside their misgivings so that they follow the process and be productive members of the Zambian society and assured that Zambia was committed to upholding her international obligation of providing international protection to refugees.
The UNHCR Representative – Ms Laura Lo Castro – also condemned the recent xenophobic attacks in Lusaka and commended the Government for the urgent measures it has put in place to foster unity and co-existence.
The UNHCR Representative expressed happiness at Government’s support for solutions to the refugee situation by, particularly, allocating vast pieces of land to refugees, by supporting return home and offering local integration.
She assured Government that UNHCR will continue mobilizing resources to support it in the implementation of the local integration programme, to benefit both former refugees and the Zambian host community.
Ms Lo Castro observed that the world has recorded unprecedented numbers of refugees, asylum-seekers and others of concern now standing at over 60 million.
“With this increased pressure on countries and the number of wars and emergencies in the world constantly increasing, sentiments towards refugees are mixed. While we still have many who welcome refugees, some hearts are hardening,” observed Ms Lo Castro.
The World Refugee Day commemoration, which was characterized by a variety of cultural performances, plays and acrobatics, was held in Mayukwayukwa under the local theme ‘Together in Respect for Diversity, Peace and Prosperity. The commemoration coincides with Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement’s Golden Jubilee. The settlement was established 50 years ago in 1966, with Angolans being the first refugees to be hosted, making it one of the oldest refugee settlements in Africa.
During the WRD commemoration, some of the Angolans who arrived in Mayukwayukwa in 1966 were honoured with presents. Prior to the WRD commemoration, UNHCR organized a school poem writing and drawing competition focusing on the WRD theme. Pupils from Mayukwayukwa and surround schools participated in the competition, with winners from each grade receiving prizes.