After a long journey from Luapula province’s Nchelenge District, 195 Congolese refugees have started a new life at Meheba refugee settlement, where they have been relocated by the government of Zambia in conjunction with UNHCR.
The relocated Congolese refugees endured a 1, 400 kilometre journey to their new home where they were received by their jubilant compatriots who have been in the refugee settlement for a long time, having fled the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a long time ago.
Meheba Refugee Officer, Joseph Musonda, assured the relocatees of government’s protection and called on them to abide by the country’s laws as they receive assistance from the UNHCR. The refugees will be provided with a plot of land for farming purposes and to erect shelter.
UNHCR associate protection officer, Towa Chaiwila, thanked the Government of Zambia for continued hospitality to refugees.
The Government and UNHCR on Friday announced that they had commenced the relocation of 753 Congolese refugees who recently fled into Zambia to seek safety.
UNHCR Zambia Officer-in-Charge, Mr. Yohondamkoul Sakor announced that those Congolese refugees being relocated are those who have voluntarily expressed willingness to be relocated to Meheba Refugee Settlement after the Government and UNHCR jointly conducted a verification exercise. The Congolese refugees are of different age groups and both gender.
So far, over 1, 000 Congolese have crossed into Zambia since October owing to the fighting between the Mai Mai rebels and the Congolese Government soldiers in the Katanga region of the DRC, but only 753 are willing to be relocated while the rest have opted to remain on Kilwa Island, exploring the opportunity of going back.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Honourable Edgar Lungu, encouraged all those Congolese who recently crossed into Zambia for safety to consider relocating to Meheba as staying irregularly within the boundaries of Zambia without official authorization was against local immigration and refugee laws, which require that refugees stay in designated refugee camps.
By UNHCR Press Office