Angola + 1 more

Zambia reiterates protection commitment to refugees

LUSAKA, Jun 20, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) - Zambia reiterated its commitment to providing protection to refugees living in the country on the 5th World Refugee Day, which falls on June 20.

Home Affairs Minister Kalombo Mwansa called for timely interventions in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and wars which degenerate into displacement of people.

He said the resolution of the civil war in Angola has seen the return of over 45,000 refugees through the ongoing Angolan repatriation program, which was launched in July 2003.

Mwansa also urged refugees in the country, estimated at a population of 275,000, to return home through voluntary repatriation since they no longer have any fear to return back home.

Repatriation was the best durable solution to a large-scale refugee problem, he added.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regional representative Ahmed Said Faraiy commended the Zambian government and the donor community for assisting refugees in the country.

He also announced that the UNHCR has contributed 500,000 US dollars for the extension of the Zambian Initiative, a government development through local integration projects currently being implemented in Western Province, to North-Western Province.

"We rejoice that Zambia has always been a nation of peace, and has opened its doors to refugees over many decades," Nkurikiye Etienne, a representative from the Lusaka Refugee Community, was quoted by the Zambia News Agency as saying.