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Government assures the host community that no one will be displaced as Congolese are relocated to the new refugee settlement in Nchelenge

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Government, together with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, today assured the host community in Nchelenge’s Mantapala area that no one will be displaced when Congolese refugees are relocated to the area.

The message was conveyed during the start of sensitization of the host community in Nchelenge’s Mantapala area today, ahead of the relocation of Congolese refugees which will start soon.

The Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Abdon Mawere, accompanied by Nchelenge District Commissioner, Derrick Mwelwa and UNHCR Representative. Pierrine Aylara, called for co-existence between the host community and the refugees, who will join them soon.

At a meeting held in one of the villages near the soon to be designated refugee settlement, Commissioner Mawere informed the host community that the Government has accepted the offer from the Chieftainess to host the refugees at Mantapala.

He reminded the people attending the meeting of Zambia’s long history of hosting refugees, which is respected internationally, thus, appealed to the host community around mantapala not view the Congolese refugees as enemies, but as brothers and sisters who have been compelled by circumstances out of their control to flee their home country – the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Commissioner Mawere assured the host community that the new Comprehensive Refugee Response (CRRF), is a concept that ensures that when setting up a new refugee settlement, no locals are displaced, but they should live alongside the refugees.

“We’ll ensure that you are not moved, but you live side by side with refugees. For example, the new concept is that if there is a Zambian home here, the next will be a refugee. That helps to integrate and ensure co-existence over time and sharing of services provided,” explained Mr Mawere during a very interactive session, punctuated by many questions from the host community.

The Commissioner for Refugees explained that it was imperative to start the relocation from congested Kenani because the population at Kenani will reach 10, 000 by tomorrow (Friday).

The District Commissioner assured the host community that the coming of refugees will bring a number of benefits to them, such as health services, water supply, schools, employment and an improved road network.

The community was very receptive to the idea of hosting Congolese, having seen the benefits when Kala refugee camp in Kawambwa, deactivated in 2010, situated just about 25 kilometres from Mantapala, was in existence.

The UNHCR Representative thanked the Zambian community in Mantapala for accepting to host Congolese refugees. The relocation will start as soon as some logistics have been put in place in the coming few weeks.

A local chieftainess, Kanyembo, of Nchelenge District, recently provided a 6,000+ hectare of land as a new refugee settlement to host Congolese refugees, following congestion at Kenani, which is a transit centre.

While the majority of Congolese new arrivals are through the Chiengi border area, some are crossing into Zambia through other entry points, such as Nsumbu, Kaputa and Mpulungu in Northern. Kapushi and Kakoma, in North Western and Kasumbalesa and Sakania, on the Copperbelt province. These are relocated to Meheba and Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlements.

A total of 4, 600 Congolese have fled to Zambia since the start of 2017 through other entry points than Chiengi. The overall cumulative number of new Congolese arrivals in Zambia so far in 2017 (Chiengi and other entry points) is: 12, 900.

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