Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) – The Zambian government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have launched the Strategic Framework for the Local Integration of Former Refugees in Zambia, requiring US$20.9 million to implement.
The Framework which was unveiled in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, Wednesday is a comprehensive document that presents the local integration programme, taking stock of the work already done with regard to the local integration programme.
The Framework outlines priority actions, and specifies the responsibilities and resources required to implement the government’s pledge to locally integrate former Angolan refugees and commitment to Rwandan who will meet the criteria yet to be approved.
Zambia has pledged to locally integrate 10,000 eligible former Angolan refugees who have been living in Zambia for over four decades, some of whom have been born and brought up in Zambia as second or third generation refugees. The government has also committed to locally integrate 4, 000 Rwandans.
UNHCR representative in Zambia Laura Lo Castro, said Wednesday’s launch is a clear manifestation of the commitment of the Zambian government, the traditional leadership in refugee hosting areas, the people of Zambia, co-operating partners and, UNHCR to ensuring that together a sustainable solution to the situation of former refugees is found.
The three fundamental objectives for the local integration programme are to facilitate legal integration of eligible former refugees through the issuance of residency status and ultimately citizenship for residence permit holders.
The funding will be to pay for residence permits for the most vulnerable former refugees.
The second is ensuring that former refugees and their Zambian hosts settling in the two “resettlement schemes”, to be established within Meheba and Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlements, have access to land and basic services (consistent with national standards) that will enable them to sustain/improve agricultural productivity, employment and household income.
And lastly to advocate for additional targeted assistance to refugee-affected areas in support of their priority local development outcomes. Under this pillar, funding will support rehabilitation of crucial social infrastructure (schools, health centres, skills and small business development) in the surrounding Zambian communities.
To implement these programmes outlined in the Local Integration Framework, the Zambian government will need an estimated US$ 20. 9 million from now to 2016.
Castro said while tangible progress has been made on the first objective that has seen already some 6,000 Angolans positively screened for Zambian immigration permits and is now only waiting for the issuance of national passports by the Angolan authorities, the implementation of the other two objectives, particularly the second, has only just started.
Zambia’s Minister of Home Affairs Ngosa Simbyakula, disclosed that Japan and Canada have already contributed about US$8 million to the programme and the African Union who he said made the first financial contribution to projects under local integration.
Zambia currently hosts over 53,000 people of concern mainly from Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Somalia, with the majority residing in the two settlements, while the rest are in urban areas or self-settled.
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