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Zambia’s refugee numbers nearly double in past 5 years

06:50 06 October 2021 Author :  

The Zambian Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security reported that the country's refugee numbers has more than doubled in the last five years.

Minister Jack Mwiimbu said numbers rose from 53, 972 in 2016 to 102,127 this year.

"This calls for greater burden and responsibility sharing, especially given the $12.3 million funding shortfall for Zambia experienced in 2021," Mwiimbu told a virtual 72nd UNHCR executive committee meeting, Tuesday.

He said his country has maintained a long standing tradition as a hospitable state and safe haven for asylum seekers and refugees by keeping its borders open in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Zambia stands with you and your staff as we strive to deliver protection and solutions despite the health crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic," he added.

Zambia, which has a population of more than 18 million, rolled out the implementation of the comprehensive refugee response framework in 2017 and continues to be inclusive in

programs by placing national resources at the disposal of refugees, including land, social services and economic opportunities using the whole of government approach.

"However, the increase in the refugee population has exerted immense pressure on the country’s capacity to efficiently and effectively care and protect them," Mwiimbu said adding that there was also a greater need to raise the bar in the quality of services offered to refugees and host communities.

Mwiimbu called for international support to diversify sources of funding and find more creative ways to fulfil our responsibilities to displaced populations from countries such as Rwanda and Angola.

This, he said would be crucial for the country to provide alternative legal status and ensuring socio-economic inclusion for the more than 23,000 former refugees.

He added that to prevent statelessness, efforts are being made to ensure all refugees and former refugees have access to civil registration documents and are included in the new civil registration strategic plan./aa

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