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Bring back our Girls, demand Refugees and Zambian Students

Filed under: Breaking News,International News |

Scores of students at Mayukwayukwa  Refugee Settlement  in Kaoma, about 500 kilometres west of the Zambian capital Lusaka, have joined calls of solidarity demanding the release of over 230 abducted Nigerian students.

The refugee and Zambian students in this remote refugee settlement in Western Zambia, carrying paper placards, called for the release of the Boko Haram abducted students  when Home Affairs Deputy Minister Nickson Chilangwa, leading a high-level team consisting of the UN Resident Co-ordinator, Ms Janet Rogan and UNHCR Representative in Zambia, Ms Laura Lo Castro and other co-operating partners, toured the Government constructed high school which opened its first classes two days ago, on Monday.

As the high-level delegation toured the basic school and high school, all the students, including boys, carried plain paper placards reading “BRING BACK OUR GIRLS”, as a sign of sorrow and solidarity over the plight of over 230 girls abducted in Nigeria a few weeks ago.

The UN Resident Co-ordinator, Ms Rogan,  commended the students for showing solidarity with their fellow students in Nigeria.

“As the UN in Zambia, we are proud of you and will join the rest of the world in voicing calls to have these girls released,” said Ms Rogan.

The UNHCR Representative also expressed happiness that the students, who include some refugees, have shown great responsibility by joining calls to have the girls abducted in Nigeria released.

The major highlights of the high level delegation’s visit was the witnessing of the first class of students at Mayukwayukwa High School.     Constructed by the Government, the school will be the first ever high-school in Mayukwayukwa area to benefit the refugees, former refugees,  and the Zambianhost community.

The school has opened informally as a day school for now with 90 students, because it still has some outstanding challenges, such as lack of electricity, lack of furniture for offices, lack of furniture for the school hall, lack of furniture for the computer laboratory, science laboratory, and the library.

Other challenges at the school are lack of  computers for the computer laboratory, lack of books for the library, and the lack of equipment for the science laboratory.

UNHCR organised the high level visit in order for the co-operating partners to acquaint themselves with the operations of the school and see how they can assist to overcome the school’s challenges.

Before the construction of the High School, Mayukwayukwa only had a basic school and several community schools which cater for bothZambians and refugees.

Pupils (refugees and locals in the area) who qualified to senior secondary level were compelled to travel long distances to acquire such education, the nearest place being Kaoma High School, about 87 kilometres from the refugee settlement.  The construction of the high school by the Government started in 2008 and has changed the infra structural and educational landscape of Mayukwayukwa catchment area.

The school has a capacity of over 600 students when fully operational.  The school complex has several classrooms, assembly hall, two laboratories, dining hall, tuck shop, 20teachers’ houses and administration block.  Other facilities are the library, ablution blocks, computer centre and dormitories.

The high-level team also witnessed the home-grown school feeding programme at Mayukwayukwa Basic School.   This is an innovative school feeding programme initiated by the Parents Teachers Association (PTA).

The high-level team also visited local integration projects within Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement and the surrounding areas.    Deputy Minister Chilangwa underscored Government’s commitment to issues pertaining to the local integration of former refugees.

He said Government would ensure that all projects under the local integration development programme run smoothly. He called on co-operating partners to come on board and support the local integration programme, especially after the launch of the strategic framework document on the local integration of former refugees in Zambia.

UNHCR Representative to Zambia Ms Laura Lo Castro has described the high level visit as a clear demonstration of the commitment of the  Government and other stakeholders to issues pertaining to refugees and local integration of former refugees.

In addition, Ms LoCastro commended the Government of Zambia for informally opening Mayukwayukwa High School.

Mayukwayukwa hosts over 11,600 people of concern from Angola, Burundi, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).



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