from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – ZAMBIAN authorities have been urged to consider all legal options possible to regularise the status of refugees, including children born there.
Gillian Triggs, United Nations Refugee Agency’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, recommended that the government to conclude the legal integration of Angolans and Rwandans, whose refugee status had ceased.
She underscored the importance of advancing the socio-economic aspects of their integration within the host communities.
“Children born in Zambia, who have lived here all their lives, have gone to schools in Zambia, speak Zambian languages, sing the national anthem and embrace the traditions of Zambian cultures as Zambians,” Triggs observed.
The envoy has concluded a five-day visit to Zambia.
She appealed for renewed efforts in finding sustainable solutions for refugees who have been living in Zambia, some for as long as 30 years and are now at risk of statelessness.
Triggs thus underscored the need for legal documentation such as permits and formal identification to enhance self-reliance, access to social services and the full enjoyment of their rights.
Nonetheless, she applauded the government’s hospitality towards refugees by making land available and ensuring access to several national services including education and health care.
The envoy and government officials visited Mehaba refugee settlement, established in 1971 in the North Western province.
At its peak in 2003, it hosted 47 670 refugees but with facilitated repatriation to Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the population significantly reduced.
– CAJ News