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Zambia Chapter of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Regional Refugee Response Plan (January-December 2018}

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Background and Achievements

As of 30 August 2017, Zambia began to receive refugees fleeing conflict in Pweto and Moba areas in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Delays in the electoral process and an increased polarization between the opposition and incumbent President Joseph Kabila have led to a tense climate in the DRC, prompting violent conflicts between a newly formed rebel group “Elements” and the Armed Forces for the Democratic Republic of Congo (FADRC) in South-Eastern parts of the country, including the Tanganyika and Haut Katanga provinces. These fights continue to force thousands of people in various provinces to flee their homes and become either internally displaced persons (IDPs) in DRC or refugees in neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

In Zambia, the Congolese refugees are arriving through informal and formal borders crossing into Luapula, Western and North – Western Provinces. They arrive in weak and generally poor conditions after walking long distances and multiple displacements inside DRC. The strenuous journey is worse for pregnant women, lactating mothers, the elderly, persons with medical conditions and special needs and the unaccompanied children. Fearing for their lives, many refugees enter through informal border crossing points which adds to the challenge of identifying, registering and responding to their needs in a timely manner. Conditions during displacement inside DRC and in transit also increase vulnerability to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) as well as risk of trafficking and exploitation particularly among young girls and boys travelling without their families.

As of 31 January 2018, a total of 14,540 Congolese refugees who left DRC since August 2017 have been registered at Kenani Transit Centre in Nchelenge District, Luapula Province. Of these, 50% are female of which 20% are aged 18 years and above and 29% are aged 0 to 17 years. Furthermore, 58% of the overall population are children, below the age of 18 years, and 42% of the total population are adults (age 18 years and above). A total of 3,109 registered Congolese have been identified as Persons with Specific Needs. This figure is in addition to 4,336 Congolese refugees arriving in Western and North-Western Provinces and Lusaka who after registration and Refugee Status Determination (RSD) are transferred to Meheba Refugee Settlement.

Since the beginning of the emergency, the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ), UN agencies and national/international NGOs are providing multi-sectoral life-saving protection and assistance such as food commodities, temporary shelter, water, sanitation and Non Food Items (CRIs) and community-based protection in Luapula, Western and North Western Provinces. Luapula Province, which hosts the largest portion of the Congolese refugees has one of the lowest Human Development Indicators in the country.

Therefore, the presence of refugees puts a lot of strain on the existing natural resources.
The Republic of Zambia has a long tradition of hosting refugees. Currently, there are over 70,000 persons of concern including refugees, asylum seekers and others of various nationalities. These statistics also include former refugees from Angola and Rwanda whose refugee status ceased in 2012 and 2013 and who have been granted social integration in Zambia (some 22,500). The majority of refugees and former refugees in Zambia continue to reside in designated refugee settlements (Meheba and Mayukwayukwa) and a smaller number are living in urban areas, mostly in Lusaka and Ndola, while majority of new arrivals are hosted in Kenani Transit Centre and Mantapala Refugee Settlement.
The New York Declaration, adopted by all 193 Member States of the United Nations, sets out elements of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). The Republic of Zambia is signatory to the New York Declaration. During the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees (June 2016), the Head of State pledged to move towards a settlement approach and to improve economic productivity in refugee-hosting areas in Meheba and Mayukwayukwa. As such, the countrywide refugee response is programmed with the spirit of CRRF which is designed to:

  • ensure rapid reception conditions and wellsupported admission measures;

  • provide support for immediate and ongoing needs;

  • assist national/local institutions and communities receiving refugees;

  • provide investment in the resilience capacities of refugees and local communities; and,

  • provide expanded opportunities for durable solutions wherever possible.