Over 500 Congolese asylum-seekers have fled into Zambia within a day, recording the biggest single entry of new arrivals in three years.
The 500 Congolese asylum-seekers were received today through Chiengi, Kamponge and other border entry points in the North.
The new arrivals are in addition to a sporadic and continuous stream that has characterised refugee inflows from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo into Zambia over the past three years.
UNHCR Representative to Zambia, Pierrine Aylara, confirmed the arrival of the over 500 arrivals, and believes that more are being hosted by local community and the agency.
The UNHCR is conducting a head-count to ascertain exact figures as the new arrivals are entering through different border entry points with some un-manned.
UNHCR, working with the Government and other partners, is providing basic humanitarian assistance to the new arrivals and who are currently being relocated to Meheba Refugee Settlement in North Western Zambia.
From 1st January to 31st August 2017, over 3, 000 asylum-seekers from the DRC have been received in Zambia cumulatively, with August alone accounting for about a thousand.
Zambia currently hosts some 58,000 refugees.
And Government says it is concerned over a stream of refugees entering Zambia through the Northern border following political anxieties in the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says government has put in place measures to screen Congolese refugees entering the country mainly through the border line in Mbala and Kaputa Districts.
Mr Kampyongo says the Commissioner for Refugees should ensure the agreed contingent measures are actualized in good time to respond to the needs of the refugees.
He says the Commissioner for Refugees should quickly engage the new UNHCR country representative to ensure timely intervention.
Mr Kampyongo says government is hopeful that political stakeholders in the DRC will quickly reach an amicable agreement to lessen anxieties.
He was speaking in a telephone interview with ZNBC News.
International – ZNBC