New arrivals report to immigration officials at the border, or in Lusaka, and request asylum. They are screened by the District Joint Operations Committees (DJOCs) consisting of the Department of Immigration, the Police, the Army, and Intelligence officials. The DJOC establishes the identity of asylum seekers, reasons for departing the country of origin and screens out armed elements, combatants and others considered to be a threat to national security. The DJOC determines whether new arrivals should be recognized as refugees pursuant to the 1969 OAU Convention criteria. Asylum seekers who are not granted 1969 OAU Convention status and are 'not screened out' for security reasons, are referred to the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees (COR) in Lusaka for individual status determination.
The official government policy is that refugees should reside in designated settlements. However, refugees who hold a valid urban residence permit (White Card) issued based on employment, self-employment, security, family unity or compelling medical grounds are authorized to reside in urban areas, such as the capital, Lusaka. UNHCR advocates for the adoption of an inclusive Refugee Policy and Administrative Instructions to complement the 2017 Refugee Act to ease the encampment policy.
The Makeni Transit Centre in Lusaka, whose management was transferred from UNHCR to COR in January 2019, hosts asylum seekers pending the determination of their cases and, as well as, referrals from the settlement (medical, resettlement etc). UNHCR provides the new arrivals with CRIs. Recognized refugees are relocated to the settlements with the assistance of UNHCR.
UNHCR has a Protection Helpdesk, AAH supports the Ministry of Health in providing medical care and manages the warehouse, while CARE is the SGBV partner in the transit centre. As of September 2019, WorldVision will assist in child protection. The Chalala Medical House, run by AAH, provides accommodation for medical referrals from the settlement. UNHCR has four Refugee Outreach Centres (Kanyama, Chipata, Chawama, George) and conducts outreach at the Somali Community Centre in Chaisa, and implements limited livelihood and literacy programmes, through CARITAS Czech Republic.