President Hakainde Hichilema has called on the United Nations system to assist countries hosting refugees and asylum seekers with finance and logistics in the wake of various economic challenges that are affecting them.
President Hichilema explains that the global economic challenges are affecting many countries hence the need for the UN systems to help countries with humanitarian requirements for them to take good care of the refugees.
President Hichilema says as much as Zambia is committed to improving the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers since its independence, the UN systems need to redefine its support approach in all areas of humanitarian.
The President was speaking at the State House when a delegation of the visiting United Nations Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) called on him.
He explained that the continued tension between Russia and Ukraine leading to the high cost of fuel and fertilizer, negative effects of climate change and the current debt situation, Zambia is under pressure to effectively carry out its mandate of taking care of refugees due to inadequate resources hence the need for other partners to come on board.
The Head of State said with the continued instability in many countries, Zambia has continued to receive refugees from across the world including Europe, thereby increasing pressure on its resource envelopes.
” Zambia has been hosting refugees for many years, from the time we gained our independence, historically we hosted refugees from neighbouring countries and the region, but now with the constraints in our resource envelope arising from the increased cost of fuel and fertilizer which has been caused by the Russia/Ukraine war, climate change and instability in our macroeconomic fundamentals, it is important for the UN system to redefine it’s financial and logistics to countries hosting refugees,” he said.
And President Hichilema has promised to engage relevant Ministries to improve the documentation of refugees and asylum seekers in Zambia to improve their welfare.
He noted that as the country works towards restoring the rule of law, it is important for everyone to be law abiding.
And UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner in charge of legal protection Gillian Triggs has praised Zambia for the proactive role it is playing in enhancing global practice on the protection of refugees.
Ms. Triggs said it is gratifying to note that despite Zambia having more than 100,000 refugees and former refugees it has continued to play an active role in providing help to them.
However, with the growing community of the refugees and increase in economic activities, there is need for the Zambian government to consider improving the documentation system for refugees.
She stated that the current documentation has the same weaknesses that do not work in favour of the refugees.
Ms. Triggs cited the documentation that refugees can only go up to secondary school in terms of education, and are disadvantaged from accessing tertiary education.
She also noted that there is also a need for some form of a Humanitarian Visa to facilitate the movement of refugees.
The UNHCR delegation is in the country to engage with different stakeholders on the welfare of refugees in Zambia.