The Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Filippo Grandi, held talks at State House in Lusaka yesterday. The visit to Zambia is part of the High Commissioner’s visit to Southern Africa and it is his first visit to Zambia.
During the discussions, President Lungu thanked UNHCR and other co-operating partners for the support they continue to render to the Government in admitting and providing protection to refugee and using a comprehensive approach to their refugee response striving towards legal, social and economic inclusion.
The President underlined that Zambia will continue to have an open-door policy towards refugees, but emphasized that the provision of assistance and services to refugees has to be a joint responsibility. “There has to be burden- and responsibility-sharing with the international community. We appreciate the support we have received from co-operating partners, until now but we still we need more support,” said President Lungu.
President Lungu welcomed the UNHCR chief’s visit as it will help to acquaint Mr. Grandi with the challenges in the refugee programme in Zambia, especially now that the Government is entering into a phase of stabilizing the Congolese refugee response. President Lungu also expressed optimism about the prospects for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mr. Grandi expressed his gratitude for President Lungu’s commitment to an open-door policy towards refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees affirmed the Organization’s commitment to continued support to the Government of Zambia by advocating for resources for the refugee programme that can benefit both refugees and refugee hosting areas.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed the fact that Zambia is embracing the Global Compact on Refugees as a progressive and landmark document ,which will contribute to ensuring sustainable solutions for refugees, former refugees and host communities in a holistic manner.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees thanked the Government and people of Zambia for having made strides on local integration of former Angolan and Rwandan refugees, but emphasized the need to accelerate the process.
He assured the President that he will call on the international community to continue to support Zambia in order to close this chapter.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees was accompanied by UNHCR ‘s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Mr. Valentin Tapsoba, the UN Resident Co-ordinator, Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio and the UNHCR Representative to Zambia, Ms Pierrine Aylara.
The UNHCR chief will visit Mantapala Refugee Settlement in Luapula Province on Friday.
Zambia currently hosts over 84,553 refugees and other persons of concern mainly in Meheba Settlement, in North-Western Province, Mayukwayukwa in Western Province and Mantapala, in Luapula Province.