Government says refuges from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have continued to trek into the country and have surpassed the 6,000 mark of refugees currently camped at Kenani Refugee Transit Centre in Nchelenge district of Luapula province.
Minister Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo disclosed that over 200 refugees mostly women and children have arrived in the country from the neighbouring DRC.
ZANIS reports that Mr. Kampyongo who addressed journalists in Lusaka today described the situation in ‘war-torn’ DRC as unpredictable in the DRC.
He said the number of asylum seekers from DRC camped at Kenani was 5,800 refugees but that they have since exceeded 6,000 due to continued new arrivals.
The Minister however, assured that government has deployed Immigration Officers and a number of military and health personnel who are screening the refugees.
He also disclosed that a new land has been secured in Nchelenge district, to accommodate the influx of Congolese nationals fleeing from political instability in their country.
Mr Kampyongo commended international humanitarian organization such as the Zambia Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for supplementing government efforts to address the plight of DRC asylum seekers.
He warned Zambians at the border town of Nchelenge against harbouring the refugees as they risked being prosecuted.
On 31st October this year, President Edgar Lungu travelled to Nchelenge district to assess the situation at the Kenani Refugee Transit Centre in order to mobilise international support from humanitarian agencies to address the refugee crisis.
And Angolan refugees from Meheba refugee camp yesterday came together to commemorate their country’s 42nd Independence Day celebrations.
The pre independence celebrations were held at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) guest house situated right in the camp, under the theme: “United for a Democratic, One and Indivisible Angola”.
Angolan Consul General, Alberto Antonio, who graced the occasion, assured the gathering that his government is going to do everything possible to help lessen the problems Angolans are facing in Meheba refugee camp.
Mr Antonio told ZANIS in an interview in Kalumbila that his office will embark on massive registration of Angolan refugees following the discovery that most of the refugees do not have identification documents.
He said the consular registration will enable the refugees obtain Angolan documents such as national identification cards and passports.
Mr Antonio said resources are being put together to ensure that the registration exercise kicks off at the end of November..
He further explained that the documentation will help the refugees to be more proactive and be able to travel freely in Zambia even as they get integrated into the Zambian society.
Mr Antonio thanked the Zambian government for managing a resettlement scheme under the local integration programme aimed at promoting sustainable resettlement in Zambia .
He said the initiative is a welcome move because for so many years Zambians and Angolans have lived together peacefully.
Meanwhile, Boniface Chingenge an Angolan refugee who has been living in Zambia since 1969 said the independence celebrations have brought the Angolans together to remember their country.
“We are very thankful that our father the Consul has come to celebrate with us and we are very thankful to the Zambian government for receiving us when we were children until now when we have grown with children and grandchildren,” he said.
Mr Chingenge narrated to ZANIS that his father died in the war in Angola and that prompted him and his mother to leave for Zambia.
He said upon his arrival in Zambia at Mayukwayukwa refugee camp his mother also died and left him all by himself.
Mr Chingenge said as a grown man he still has the fear of returning to his country because all his life he has observed how his fellow Angolans were flocking into Zambia fleeing from conflicts in Angola.
He said that his mind is now at peace as the Consul has clearly explained and assured Angolans that the country (Angola) is now peaceful.