The Zambian government said on Friday that a total of 15,000 former Angolan and Rwandan refugees have so far been integrated into local communities in Zambia under a local integration program.
Zambia, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), embarked on a local integration program of the former refugees following the cessation of their refugee status.
Speaking at Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement in western Zambia’s Kaoma district during the commemoration of World Refugee Day, Gerry Chanda, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, appealed to all other former Rwandan refugees who don’t want to apply for local integration to set aside their misgivings and do so.
He however pledged that Zambia was committed to upholding international obligations of proving international protection of refugees.
He further revealed that Zambian President Edgar Lungu has issued strict instructions to ensure that the xenophobic attacks that occurred in Lusaka, the country’s capital don’t happen.
“I wish to underline that the government strongly condemns the recent attacks on refugees witnessed in the densely populated communities of Lusaka. The president gave the ministry strict instructions to ensure that such xenophobic attacks don’t happen again. Zambia has a high reputation in the international community and the government will not allow a few criminally-minded people to tarnish that image by engaging in xenophobic practices aimed at satisfying their personal desires,” he said in a statement released by the UNHCR.
In April, Zambia experienced attacks on foreign owned shops after rumors that the owners were behind a spate of ritual killings that had hit some densely populated areas of the Zambian capital.
Meanwhile, UNHCR Representative Laura Lo Castro commended Zambia or providing an enabling environment for refugees through provisions of vast pieces of land, supporting those returning to their countries and offering local integration of former refugees.
She said the UNHCR will continue mobilizing resources to support the local integration program for the benefit of both former refugees and Zambian host communities.
The World Refugee Day commemoration falls on June 20.
The commemoration was held under the theme “Together in Respect for Diversity, Peace and Prosperity”.