Over 1,800 Congolese flee to Zambia within a week
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA: The number of Congolese asylum-seekers that have fled to Zambia from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) over the past one week has now gone over 1,800.
According to Government authorities, over 1,832 Congolese asylum-seekers crossed the border between Wednesday 30 August and 6 September 2017 through Chiengi’s Kamponge and surrounding border entry points in the District, situated north of Zambia.
From January to 29th August this year, a total of 2,646 DRC asylum seekers crossed the border. This brings the total number of Congolese new arrivals between 1st January and 6th September 2017 to 4,478.
While most of the new arrivals have presented themselves to authorities and UNHCR, others have temporarily settled within the host community, where they have close family links, but are being moved from the villages to a temporarily holding facility, pending relocation.
Traditional authorities in Chiengi have since requested the Government of Zambia to move all the new arrivals and put them under its care.
Some 1,080 new arrivals are at a temporary holding centre at Ponda Secondary School on the outskirts of Chiengi. The Government and UNHCR have today started moving the Congolese to Nchelenge Transit Centre, further inland, for onward relocation to Meheba Refugee Settlement, in North Western Zambia, 1,300 km away, where all new arrivals in Zambia are being settled.
According to the new arrivals, generalised insecurity, characterized by clashes between Congolese and different militias around the towns of Pweto and Moba, has led to them fleeing to Zambia to seek asylum.
The new arrivals consist of both sexes - mainly children and adults. They have fled with a lot of hand luggage.
UNHCR is providing basic life-saving humanitarian assistance (food, water, sanitation, tents, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and cloths) to the new arrivals.
UNHCR, jointly with Government requires urgent funding to assist the Government, and has reached out to various partners and donors for assistance to help with the logistics of relocation, put up basic facilities are at Nchelenge and open a new holding centre in Chiengi.
As of 31 July 2017, the total population of Congolese in Zambia (asylum-seekers and refugees) was 25,467.
Zambia currently hosts some 59,195 refugees and others of concern, mostly from Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Uganda. The vast majority reside in two refugee settlements – Mayukwayukwa in Western Province and Meheba in North Western Province - while others live in urban areas or are self-settled in various parts of the country.