The Zambian government has completed feasibility study and cost analysis for connecting the three refugee settlements to the national electricity grid.
The settlements include Mantapala in Luapula province, Meheba in North-western and Mayukwayukwa in Western Province.
ZANIS reports that Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo has told the 71st Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme (EXCOM), in Geneva, Switzerland that his government has done the assessment for connecting the refugee settlements to the national electricity grid.
“In order to fulfil the pledges we made during the global refugee forum, Zambia has completed a feasibility study and cost analysis for connecting the three (3) refugee settlements to the national electricity grid,” Mr Kampyongo said.
The Minister disclosed that the government through the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) will contribute US$ 2 million to the electrification of refugee settlements and requires a contribution of US$1.5 million from cooperating partners to fully implement the project.
Refugees, former refugees and the host communities in the settlements in Zambia have lived for decades without electricity, a situation which has hampered their productivity.
High Commissioner, Fillipo Grandi, last year visited one of the settlements in northern Zambia, namely Mantapala which hosts Congolese refugees and assured that the UN Refugee Agency will find a way of electrifying the refugee settlement to brighten the lives of refugees and their hosts.
Mr Grandi said his visit had given him an insight of the challenges refugees face in Zambia, one of them being the lack of electricity which he said required urgent attention.
And Mr Kampyongo has also called on all international partners to assist Zambia in strengthening service delivery in health, water, sanitation, education and protection to the refugee population in the three settlements in view of the growing numbers that have continued to put pressure on the country’s already strained service delivery systems.
“Chairperson, the world is witnessing extraordinary times, facing challenges such as financial crisis, climate change, and changing technologies and now the global health pandemic. It is in such times that countries tend to allocate resources to their own citizens and leave out vulnerable people, such as refugees that are being hosted within their territories “he said.
“It is, therefore, important to remember that even in times of crisis, our international responsibility to ensure refugee protection remains an unequivocal binding obligation. It’s at this time that our humanity is truly tested,” the Minister added.
He further disclosed that due to the health crisis, the Zambian government and its partners has lagged behind in implementing refugee programmes, and has in some instances have had to cancel or suspend some programmes.
He re-affirmed Zambia’s full commitment to completing the local integration of Angolan and Rwandan refugees.
He informed the meeting that the government, with the support of the UNHCR, has completed a pilot project to issue 150 residence permits to former Angolan refugees and will issue an additional 2,000 permits by the end this year.
The Minister of Home Affairs said this in a country statement presented to the 71st Session of the EXCOM on his behalf by Zambia’s Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Martha Mwitumwa.
The EXCOM which opened yesterday, October 5, 2020 will run up to October 9, 2020 with delegates outside Switzerland participating remotely via online platforms.