Thursday, 30 September 2010


By The Globe Reporter
THE Congolese refugees relocated to Meheba Refugee Settlement in Solwezi, North Western Province have been asked to be self-reliant instead of depending on hand-outs.
Meheba Refugee Officer, Joseph Musonda, who is under the Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs, told the 194 Congolese refugees relocated from Mwange and Kala refugee camps last Monday that life in Meheba would be different from Mwange and Kala camps where they received food assistance through-out their stay and the education system was based on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
"We welcome you in Meheba, but you should know that life will be slightly different in that your children will have to pursue Government of Zambia education curriculum, unlike at Kala and Mwange where you had the DRC educational system.  And you are expected, with time, to be self reliant, especially through farming. We know you used to receive food rations in the other two camps through-out your about ten years stay." he said. "Here after initial help, you have to be self-reliant."
Musonda reminded the refugees that the relocation of Congolese refugees was not an end in itself, but the Zambian government was still committed to ensure that the relocated Congolese refugees would at some stage decide to repatriate to the DRC, as the most preferred durable solution.
"It’s not long ago when the Commissioner for refugees led a very high powered delegation from the DRC and encouraged their countrymen and women to consider repatriation. Therefore, the relocation of our brothers and sisters is not an end in itself but the Government's position is that they too, eventually consider repatriation as the most desirable durable solution," said Musonda.
Musonda said the relocated refugees were integrating very well in Meheba, with those who arrived much earlier having already started constructing their houses.
UNHCR Programme Officer in Solwezi, Robert Taban, said the relocated Congolese refugees had undergone some orientation to start their new life in Meheba.
He said as of 27 September, a total of 1, 555 Congolese refugees had been relocated from Mwange and Kala. He said there were no refugees in Mwange and that Meheba would continue to receive the refugees who opt not to repatriate to DRC.
"The refugee population is very hard working, especially in trading and some farming. Each refugee family relocated has received a tent, plot for farming and some farming implements," Taban said. "We are encouraging the Congolese refugees to seriously get into farming because of the farming potential of Meheba."
He further explained that the relocated refugees would receive food rations for one year, thereafter fend for themselves.
UNHCR will continue to pursue the three durable solutions of voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement.
Meheba hosts 15, 942 refugees of different nationalities, with the majority being from Angola followed by those from DRC. Others are Somalis, Rwandans and Ugandans.

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