Source: Lusaka Times
By Isaac Mwanza
On Monday, August 14, 2023, the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema and his Cabinet held a 13th Cabinet Meeting in the Year 2023 at which Zambia’s National Refugee Policy was approved.
According to statistical data obtained by the Zambian Civil Liberties Union (ZCLU), Zambia currently hosts 89,109 refugees.
99 percent of these refugees are our African brothers and sisters from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia.
Women and children refugees constitute 60 percent of refugee population with only 3 percent (about 1,540) being elderly.
The approval of the policy therefore marks a commendable stride toward fostering a more inclusive and equitable society and enhancing the overall well-being of the refugees and their children residing in Zambia.
Nonetheless, it is crucial to recognize that this accomplishment marks only the outset of a journey that demands prompt and steadfast progress.
According to the data at hand, at least 21 percent of refugees choose to live in urban areas, where they work hard to sustain themselves. Unfortunately, they endure ongoing mistreatment at the hands of immigration authorities.
This category of refugees are frequently subjected to unwarranted arrests, detention, and deportation, even when they have valid reasons to be in these cities where they can seek employment opportunities to support themselves, rather than continue to rely on handouts from government and organizations like UNHCR.
These refugees find themselves detained alongside criminals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions which expose them to violence and disease exacerbate their trauma and undermine their chances of rebuilding their lives.
Discriminatory actions, bolstered by ambiguous legal provisions, intensify the challenges faced by refugees and their offspring in Zambia.
Refugee children, who were born and raised in Zambia, endure ongoing discrimination and exclusion perpetuated by current laws.
Article 37 of Zambia’s constitution guarantees citizenship rights to children born in the country to foreign parents.
Nevertheless, it is profoundly unjust that refugee children are unfairly excluded and barred from the chance to apply for citizenship – a blatant form of discrimination.