Zambia: Population movement - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF n° MDRZM010

According to the National Society’s assessments carried out in the past weeks, a heavy increase in the influx of refugees has been recorded, straining the capacity of the reception and transition centres (TC). The recent increase has triggered an immediate scale-up of the National Society’s activities in order to support and to increase the capacity of the existing transit centres as well as to allow for support outside the centres. The assessment has indicated that the trend is likely to continue, and that the National Society’s interventions may need to be further scaled up.

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Since December 2016, there have been sporadic reports of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resulting in casualties and bringing over 60,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring countries including Angola, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. As of 31st of July 2017, Zambia had hosted a total of 25,063 Congolese asylum seekers in major refugee’s sites (Meheba, Mayukwayukwa and Makeni). Of this number, new arrivals in Zambia accounted for over 3,000 people over a period of six months in seven border cross points (BCP). Most of the Congolese population is in the Meheba camp (North Western province). From August and the first week of September, there has been a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers crossing into Zambia through Chienge, Kaputa, Nsumbu and Mpulungu.

On 30 August 2017, Zambia recorded over 600 asylum seekers, making this the largest single entry in three years. The asylum seekers were coming from Pweto area of DRC and were received by village authorities in Kaponge village on the Zambian side.

In December 2016, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) identified the Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) as an implementing partner. With their financial support, ZRCS could establish/rehabilitate seven transit centres (TCs) in the seven BCPs. These locations are Mpulungu, Nsumbu, and Kaputa in Northern Province, Chienge, and Nchelenge in Luapula Province, Kipushi and Kakoma in North-western Province. The TCs comprise basic structures with minimal capacity to accommodate less than 150 asylum seekers at once. Zambia Red Cross has maintained presence in these areas from December 2016 to date as part of an agreement with UNHCR. While the TCs are usually only frequented by asylum seekers for a few days, other transit settlement areas (transit camps) are not yet fitted to accommodate the new influxes and decongest the influx, and it is expected the affected population will need to remain much longer at the TCs.

Based on the Zambia Population Movement UNHCR/Partner contingency plan, it is envisaged that more than 40,000 DRC nationals will arrive in Zambia in the worst-case scenario, by March 2018. Alongside the response planned in this DREF, monitoring of the situation will be ongoing through ZRCS and coordination meetings. If the needs continue to increase outside the scope of this DREF, a revised plan of action will be discussed. The Government through the Commissioner for Refugees has identified a new site for settlement of asylum seekers in Kasama-Northern Province (to act as a transit camp). However, the site is not yet available for use nor a timeline available on when it will be open. This site will accommodate the asylum seekers from the five TCs in Northern and Luapula Provinces before they are relocated to the permanent camps. This is to decongest the transit centers as soon as asylum seekers enter through the country.2 Given the current situation, and expectation that the influx of refugees into Zambia (from DRC) will continue, it is therefore essential that services be reinforced/expanded to ensure that the minimum basic needs of the asylum seekers are efficiently addressed.

A joint rapid assessment undertaken by ZRCS and the District Joint Operations Committee (DJOCs) in Chienge, indicates that the number of asylum seekers may rise sharply in the coming weeks because of the conflict in DRC. Among all the seven mentioned entry points being at risk, Chienge, Mpulungu, Nchelenge, Nsumbu and Kaputa are the worst affected. Additionally, the assessment identified that all the transit centers do not have the capacity to accommodate more than 250 asylum seekers at once. As such the ZRCS intends to expand these TCs temporarily to meet the current needed capacity of about another 1000 asylum seekers.3 Simultaneously, follow up assessments in Chienge are planned with other UN agencies in view of the rising number of asylum seekers and coordination meetings are ongoing.

Against this background the ZRCS is seeking support from the IFRC through the DREF application to help in meeting the immediate needs of the asylum seekers with the focus being on WASH, Shelter and provision of non-food items (NFIs). The DREF will also support in the replenishment of relief items which the National Society has already distributed to asylum seekers at Chienge’s TC.