Zambia has allocated more than 100,000 hectares of land to refugees, former refugees and persons of concern, Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo has disclosed.
Mr Kampyongo revealed at the 70th Plenary Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, that Zambia has given huge pieces of land to refugees in the refugee settlements, resettlement and transit centres.
Zambia has three Refugee Settlements namely Mantapala in Luapula, Meheba in North-western and Mayukwayukwa in Western provinces, plus refugee transit centres in various locations, which include Lusaka.
The Minister stated that in addition to land allocation to refugees, Zambia has maintained an open door asylum policy that has over the past 50 years ensured that thousands of refugees are received, protected and assisted in safety and dignity.
Zambia, which currently hosts over 84,500 persons of concern, refugees, and former refugees, has a total area of 752,618 square kilometres of land of which 9,220 square kilometres is water.
Mr Kampyongo told delegates at the Executive Committee of the UNHCR that 76 percent of the refugee population is from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who live in refugee settlements and urban areas.
Mantapala which is the latest Refugee Settlement to be established has over 6,000 hectares of land in Chieftainess Kanyembo and was originally meant to host about 20,000 Congolese refugees.
The settlement was set up in 2018 as an integrated refugee settlement to enable refugees become self-reliant and develop their livelihoods.
And the Minister of Home Affairs has further disclosed that Zambia spends at least US$2 million per annum in personal emoluments for its officers, in charge of providing services to the refugee settlements.
He stressed that for many years, refugees have been part of Zambia’s national agenda, benefiting from a whole of government approach in the delivery of services.
And High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi commended Zambia for being one of the champions of the practical application of the global compact on refugees.
Mr Grandi stated that although most countries have made strides in responding to emerging needs of refugees, there was still need for close collaboration in finding long-lasting solutions to some of the refugee crisis.