The Zambian government on Thursday (31 May 2018) granted temporal residents permits to about 1,468 former Rwandan refugees, marking the beginning of a process that will lead to local integration of some 4,000 Rwandan former refugees.
The former Rwandan refugees were given the temporal resident permits during a ceremony held at Meheba Refugee Settlement in northwestern Zambia attended by officials from the Zambian government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), according to a statement.
Stephen Kampyongo, Minister of Home Affairs, said the government was committed to the local integration of former refugees in the country.
“But we need international solidarity to continue to support the unfinished legal and socio-economic interventions,” he said.
Zambia, he said, has fully pledged to locally integrate 4,000 Rwandan former refugees, some of whom have been living in the country for 24 years.
The UN refugee agency has since welcomed the development as a landmark in providing sustainable solutions for former Rwandan refugees who have opted to remain in Zambia after the end of the voluntary repatriation in 2016.
Pierrine Aylara, the UNHCR Representative, thanked the Zambian government and its people for their legendary generosity and hospitality towards refugees from various countries as well as the former refugees.
“Refugees feel at home in Zambia and they highly appreciate the hospitality of Zambia. UNHCR encourages the government of Zambia to continue supporting the refugees and former refugees, who should now be included in the country’s development plans,” she said.
The UNHCR will continue supporting the government in mobilizing development partners to facilitate the socio-economic integration of refugees, she added.
Zambia currently hosts over 74,000 refugees and other persons of concern mainly in northwestern and western Zambia.