Zambia: Advisory group of local integration of former refugees in Zambia changes hands

Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) – The Office of the Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs in Zambia, together with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, on Tuesday officially handed over the Chair and Co-chair of the National Advisory Group (NAG) on the Local Integration of former refugees in Zambia.

The handover took place at a ceremony in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, presided over by UN and senior Government officials.

The Government’s Office of the Commissioner for Refugees (COR) and UNHCR handed over to the Department of Resettlement, under the Office of the Vice President, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the chair and co-chair roles of the National Advisory Group (NAG) on the Local Integration of former refugees in Zambia.

According to UNHCR in Lusaka, the NAG is an advisory body created in May 2014, and mirroring the Solution Alliance, a global consortium focused on linking development and humanitarian response to address - and possibly prevent - situation of forced displacement.  The Group consists of different stakeholders drawn from the Government, co-operating partners, UN agencies, civil society, the private sector and academia.

Two resettlement schemes, Mayukwayukwa and Meheba, were established by the Government of Zambia using part of the land previously gazetted as refugee settlements in Western and North-western provinces, respectively, to host both Zambians and former refugees who have been granted permanent residency status, following Government established criteria.

UNHRC, disclosed on Tuesday that the Local Integration targets to grant residency permits to over 4,000 Rwandans and 20,000 former Angolan refugees. Once granted permanent residence, the former refugees could later, if they so wish, apply for citizenship after 5 and 10 years, depending on whether they were born in Zambia or outside.

So far, 10,243 Angolans have been screened for local integration, with the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees receiving 1,689 passports issued by the Angolan Government, a prerequisite for granting permits.

The Department of Immigration has issued 1,133 residence permits to former Angolan refugees.

Among former Rwandan refugees affected by the 2013 cessation of refugee status, 49 have registered to obtain passports and another 44 have expressed interest in local integration, while 19 have already been issued with residence permits.

“To date, a total of 214 Angolans and 90 Zambians have moved to their plots in the two resettlement schemes, where a land demarcation survey has been completed," UNHCR said in a statement.

Each eligible family has been provided with 5 hectares of land, and basic shelter structures, provided for the most vulnerable beneficiaries.

The vulnerable families receive farming inputs and tools and are assisted with the initial clearance of their farms. They also receive structures completed with walls and tents to be used before the construction of their homes, UNHCR stated.

Zambia currently hosts 56,570 people of concern in the two settlements, urban areas and those that are self-settled in five provinces around the country.
-0- PANA MM/MA 13Dec2016

13 december 2016 17:28:19

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