Modernisation of Refugee Settlements Approach to be used by Zambia will strengthen refugee protection

Congolese refugees at Kenani transit centre in the Nchelenge district, 90km from the border, where the Zambian government works with aid agencies to help them
Congolese refugees at Kenani transit centre in the Nchelenge district, 90km from the border, where the Zambian government works with aid agencies to help them

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Zambia, Prosper Ng’andu says Zambia is committed to the protection and advancement of the refugees and other persons of concern.

Dr Ng’andu states that the Modernisation of Refugee Settlements Approach (MORSA) that Zambia will use to modernise refugee settlements will strengthen refugee protection as it will ensure refugees are fully self-reliant.

Dr Ng’andu who was speaking when he delivered an intervention statement on protection during the ongoing 73rd Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioners (ExCom) in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday, added that refugees will participate in significant economic activities.

“In order to provide valuable international protection to persons of concern, Zambia has conceived an idea to modernise refugee settlements through the Modernisation of Refugee Settlements Approach which intends to transform refugee settlements into ultra-modern communities,” he said.

Dr Ng’andu disclosed that Zambia is developing a National Refugee Policy which will inform review of legislation in line with international best practices.

Dr Ng’andu noted that the purpose of the National Refugee Policy is to enhance protection services for persons of concern.

He also disclosed that government is working on a permanent solution for former Angolan and Rwandan refugees whose refugee status was withdrawn following the invocation of the cessation clause.

“As indicated in the country statement, the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security will be tabling the matter before Cabinet,” said Dr Ng’andu.

Meanwhile, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs called on member states and other stakeholders to step up efforts to safeguard the right of people fleeing conflict and persecution to claim asylum.

Ms Triggs disclosed that the war in Ukraine has shown why the right to seek and enjoy international protection, a core principle of the 1951 Refugee Convention and of UNHCR’s mandate, remains necessary.

“The global response to the Ukrainian protection crisis shows that, with political will, countries and their citizens welcome millions in an emergency,” she said.

Ms Triggs added that countries such as Bangladesh, Turkey and Pakistan have provided protection to the displaced for years.

She further urged member states to focus on improving the management and efficiency of their asylum systems to address bottlenecks at Courts and in procedures to return people assessed as not in need of international protection to their countries of origin.

Meanwhile, Northwestern Province Permanent Secretary, Grandson Katambi says there is need to urgently address the rising cases of statelessness.

Colonel Katambi ( Rtd ) says it is important to identify persons at risk of being stateless as the problem has a negative impact on service provision if not properly handled.

Speaking when he opened a training workshop on statelessness and documentation in Solwezi on Friday, Col. Katambi said Northwestern province has so far identified about 171 self-settled and undocumented Angolans.

” We are alive to the fact that there are potential stateless people even within Zambia especially in Northwestern province where about 171 self-settled Angolans without documentation have so far been identified,” Col. Katambi said.

Government remains committed to efficiently identify asylum seekers and refugees as well as those at risk of being stateless to ensure that their human rights are upheld.

Hence , as part of the implementation of comprehensive refugee response framework, government has deployed 13 nurses and 30 teachers in Meheba.

On this, the Permanent Secretary explained that this will go a long way in enhancing refugee resilience and promoting a healthy and educated community.

Speaking earlier, UNHCR Associate Protection Officer, Towa Chaiwila said there is need to step up collective efforts in identification, documentation.

Mrs. Chaiwila said statelessness is a problem which affects millions of people around the globe and results in a loss of nationality and identity leaving the affected people in vulnerable circumstances.