The Zambian government has so far certified over 6,000 former Angolan refugees for eligibility for local integration in Zambia.
North-western Province Minister, Dawson Kafwaya , says out of the 6,000 certified for local integration about 200 have already been issued with immigration permits to permanently stay in Zambia.
Mr Kafwaya said this in a speech read for him by Provincial Permanent Secretary, Amos Malupenga, during the commemoration of this year’s World Refugee Day held at Meheba refugee settlement in Solwezi yesterday with a theme, “Get to know a refugee”.
He said the local integration of the former Angolan refugees follows the Zambian government’s approval of the recommendation of granting local integration to 10,000 Angolan refugees whose refugee status ceased on June 30, 2012.
Mr Kafwaya added that government last month approved a recommendation of granting local integration to former Rwandan refugees following the cessation of their refugee status on June30, 2013 and relevant government authorities are already embarking on the implementation of the decision.
“On the 13th of May 2015, our government approved the recommendation of granting local integration to former Rwandan refugees following the cessation of their status on 30th June 2013.
Our relevant authorities are already embarking on the implementation of this noble decision,” he said.
Mr Kafwaya has re-affirmed government’s commitment to providing international protection to the needy in line with provisions of the refugee conventions to which Zambia is party.
Meanwhile, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Country Representative, Laura Lo Castro, has implored former refugees given legal stay in Zambia to abide by the country’s laws.
In a speech read for her by UNHCR Solwezi Officer-In-Charge, Towa Chaiwila, Ms Lo Castro commended the Zambian government for extending wonderful hospitality to refugees and asylum seekers.
She expressed hope that the Zambian government will resist negative influences of perceptions of refugees coming from other parts of the world and continue to advocate for peace, respect for diversity and assistance to persons in need.
Speaking at the same occasion, Chief Matebo of the Kaonde speaking people in Solwezi assured protection of the former refugees in his chiefdom.
In a speech through his representative, Doris Kafumukache, Chief Matebo said such protection can be evidenced by numerous marriages of people in his chiefdom to foreign nationals such as Angolans and Congolese who came into the country as refugees.