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Warm welcome for refugees in Zambia

The Zambian government has introduced a host of new policies aimed at improving relations between refugees and locals. Angela Ukomadu reports.

MANTAPALA SETTLEMENT AND NCHELENGE, ZAMBIA (UNHCR) – 

This baby – just 20 minutes old – is the newest resident in Mantapala in Zambia.

Her mother Beatrice is a refugee from DRC.

This new clinic – and entire settlement – has been set up by the Zambian government.

As a shared space for refugees and locals.

The aim – to create good relations between both groups.

ZAMBIAN COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, ABDON MAWERE:

“It is important that refugee programs also benefit the host community. So you will see from the approach in Mantapala that all the services that we have set up, we have set them up in the communities where the refugees have come to settle.”

The UN estimates Zambia could host up to 76,000 Congolese fleeing violence by the end of this year.

But despite the rising numbers, the country has adopted a welcoming stance, incorporating refugees into its National Development Plan.

At Mantapala’s new school – refugees sit side by side with locals.

 ZAMBIAN STUDENT, WHITESON MWILA:

“We all get on really well together. I have lots of Congolese friends, they are really friendly, and there is no conflict between us.”

Zambi’s progressive asylum rules allows refugees to build businesses.

And they’re also giving access to farming land.

All part of efforts to make a cohesive and successful wider society for all.

CONGOLESE REFUGEE, AUGUSTINE ILUNGA KABANGE:

“If we work together with them, the Zambians won’t feel annoyed, and they won’t think that we have come to take over their land. If we all work together they will also benefit. They will earn money they can use in their homes.”

Last year Zambia passed even more laws to improve refugee inclusion. They include property rights – and making it easier to get permanent residency.

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