A high-level delegation comprising cabinet Ministers of the Government of the Republic of Zambia is last week, visited Kenani Transit Centre and Mantapala Refugee Settlement in Luapula’s Nchelenge District.
The Minister of Home Affairs Honorable Mr. Stephen Kampyongo, under the auspices of the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee (IMSC), led a delegation composed of the Minister in the Office of the Vice President, Minister of Defence and Luapula Province Minister. Others in the delegation were the Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Health and Luapula Province. UNHCR was represented by the Senior Protection Officer.
The IMSC was established in February this year by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and is tasked to coordinate a country-wide emergency response toward the unfolding Congolese refugee inflow in a holistic and integrated manner.
The delegation, which is currently in Luapula, will meet with Congolese refugees and assess their relocation from Kenani Transit Centre to Mantapala Refugee Settlement undertaken by the government, humanitarian partners and NGOs. The field visit is also an opportunity for the delegation to assess the progress towards the provision of social services as well as construction of infrastructure in the refugee settlement. The delegation will finally meet with provincial and district authorities to discuss matters related to Congolese refugees especially the need to create conditions for a peaceful coexistence and social cohesion between refugees and host communities.
The Government of the Republic of Zambia, with support from UNHCR, humanitarian and development partners and the donor community is seeking to ensure that the Congolese emergency response in the country is comprehensibly addressed by a whole of society approach to alleviate the burden of the host country. As such, key line ministries including the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Health, Ministry of the Office of the Vice-President, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, Ministry of Local Government and Housing and the Ministry of General Education under the leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs, have been mandated to coordinate the Congolese emergency response. From the UN side, a “Delivering as One” approach, led by the UN Resident Coordinator is being implemented involving humanitarian and development agencies. Various local and international NGOs are already part of the emergency response, while international financial institutions and private sector partnerships will be further mobilised to contribute to the ongoing efforts.
Since August 2017, Zambia has been receiving refugees fleeing the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Most of them are arriving through informal and formal border points in Luapula and Northern Province. If the refugees continue arriving, also through the North-Western and Copperbelt provinces bordering the DRC, it is anticipated that by the end of 2018, Zambia may host up to76, 000 refugees from the DRC including an existing caseload.
In view of the current emergency response in Luapula province, and anticipating a possible larger influx of refugees through the North-Western and Copperbelt provinces if the political instability worsens in the DRC, the Government of Zambia, with support from UNHCR, other UN agencies and partners, needs to ensure that appropriate reception measures and conditions are put in place in those locations. This includes providing access to territory, adequate reception centres and registration facilities, access to clean water and sanitation, provision of core relief items, access to food, and health services, among others.
The high-level Ministerial visit is an opportunity for the Government of Republic of Zambia to identify the good achievements and to also assess various operational challenges and gaps in the ongoing delivery of protection, assistance and services to Congolese refugees, using the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) as a platform that calls for a “whole of society” approach.