GOVERNMENT has issued 131 resident permits to former Angolan refugees under the second phase of the integration process.
The process, which started in 2013 under the Ministry of Home Affairs, is targeting former Angolan refugees who have settled at Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement.
Commissioner for refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Jacob Mphepo, said in an interview here that the permits have been issued to successful candidates who met requirements of the local integration programme.
He said Government has so far issued a total of 206 permits from the 6,000 applications it has received since the integration process started two years ago.
Mr Mphepo explained that they are unable to issue the permits at once due to the hectic process involved.
“The process starts with application, then issuance of passports by the Angolan government, before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can award those who meet the requirements,’’ he said.
Consul general at the Angolan Consulate in Mongu, Domingos Mazala Ricardo said they aim to integrate more than 1,000 former refugees in Zambia.
He thanked the Zambian government for the continued support rendered to them.
Mr Ricardo also urged the 131 successful applicants to continue exhibiting good behaviour now that they have been given residency status in Zambia.
“Our people should always remember that they are strangers in a foreign land and should therefore follow and respect the Zambian laws. Yes, they have attained a new status but it has some limitations; this is why we always caution them,” he said.
And United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) senior protection officer Peter Janssen said the gesture by the Zambian government is exceptional.
Mr Janssen said Africa and the world at large should take a leaf from Zambia.
“This is a very important process that we are witnessing today and I must say the gesture by both governments is exceptional. I say so because this is one of a few refugee settlements we have visited without barricades of either barbed wire or anything you can call it. Refugees here are free and that means a lot to them,” he said.
Mayukwayukwa settlement, which was established in 1966, is one of the oldest refugee camps in the world.
The settlement,which is situated in Mangango constituency of Kaoma district, currently has 5,000 former refugees and 4,000 refugees.