Looting affects 1,000 refugees

ALMOST 1,000 people have been affected by the recent riots and looting that targeted shops of foreign nationals following rumours that they were behind the ritualistic killings which characterised Lusaka City, the Ministry of Home Affairs has revealed.

Principal Refugee Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Vincent Chibuye said Government had re-opened Mayukwayukwa and Maheba refugee camps for the resettlement of the refugees affected by the recent attacks on foreign nationals. Among those largely affected were Rwandese, Congolese and Burundese.

According to Mr Chibuye, by Thursday, over 500 people had registered as victims of the attacks at the Ministry’s refugee office.

He explained that 158 refugees had already been repatriated to Mayukwayukwa Refugee Camp with more dispatched yesterday.

Mr Chibuye said the group was predominantly women and children,  and mostly of Congolese origin, who have been in the country as refugees from their country’s conflict which had resulted in mass displacement of its citizens.

“We moved 158 refugees yesterday (Thursday) to Mayukwayukwa refugee camp and we are expecting to move about 200 today (yesterday) to both Mayukwayukwa and Maheba camps as soon as the transport is ready.

“We are going by the manifests available here, although we have exceptions of those who have documents to support their continued stay outside the camps, otherwise, we are expected to move them all out of here because this just a temporary shelter,” he said.

Mr Chibuye was speaking at Kalemba Hall where a number of refugees had sought shelter following sporadic outbreak of riots fueled by speculations that some foreigners were involved in the recent brutal killings that rocked Matero’s George compound where victims were discovered with missing body parts.

And St Ignatius Parish Father Charles Chilinda, commended Zambianse from all walks of life for the support rendered to the foreign nationals housed at the Church’s buildings.

Father Chilinda said there was overwhelming support in terms of human resource, food and requirements for the people, although there were still more coming in from the compounds.

He explained that for some refugees, the occasion presented as an opportunity to normalize their status with the UNHCR and the Ministry of Home Affairs Commissioner for Refugees.

“We hope that this morning by mid morning we can have three buses to take people to Maheba in Northwestern Province which should help reduce the numbers by this evening (Friday) here because we cannot maintain this place as a refugee centre.

“But the officers from the ministry are telling me that about 500 people have registered at their office, so I think we are going to have more people coming here,” Father Chilinda said.

He explained that in terms of food, the good will exhibited by majority of the Zambian people had outweighed the criminal acts by a few people who looted the foreign nationals in the communities.

“In terms of food, we are managing with the overwhelming support pouring in from the majority of Zambians, so many volunteers are helping these people,” Father Chilinda said.

He said it was amazing that the bad acts were being overshadowed by the goodness of Zambians including the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church, Evangelical Church of Zambia, and the Scouts Association of Zambia, Zambia Red Cross and many other organisations and individuals who have come to the aid of the refugees.

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