A HUMANITARIAN crisis has besieged Zambia as more than 5,000 refugees fleeing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are domiciled in Luapula Province.
The number of asylum seekers fleeing political turmoil in that country resulting from President Joseph Kabila’s third term of office bid keeps on increasing, with latest figures at 5,890.
Between100 to 150 refugees are entering the country daily.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) has since raised alarm over the situation and asked the international to render urgent assistance to the country.
President Edgar Lungu today tours Kenani camp transit centre in the Nchelenge District, in Luapula, located 90 kilometres from the border with the DRC.
This is a site where the Government is working with aid agencies to help the refugees.
There, women and children are bearing the brunt of escalating violence between Congolese security forces and armed groups in the neighbouring country.
As the Head of State undertakes the tour of duty, he shares a similar call for the international community to come on board and help Zambia address the influx of the asylum seekers.
We agree with President Lungu’s position because Zambia has been hospitable enough in not only offering shelter but also other amenities for the affected people.
In 2015, Zambia accommodated 570 asylum seekers from Burundi, people who were fleeing the turmoil that erupted in that country after its President Pierre Nkurunziza bade for a third term of office.
At that point like now, Zambia required substantive support from the international community to cover the welfare of refugees.
We have observed that while leaders of the Great Lakes Region and Southern African Development Community (SADC) are doing their best to stabilise the political situation in the DRC, the most immediate concern for President Lungu is to secure the welfare of the refugees.
And for that, we commend Mr Lungu.
Turning to the issue in the Great Lakes Region, our call is for political leaders in that part of Africa to put their heads together and reach a consensus on dialogue.
We are disturbed by the recent happenings in Kenya, where the ruling and the main opposition political party are struggling to achieve a mutual stance for the well being of the people of Kenya.
God forbid Kenya is plunged into a crisis like that obtaining in the DRC, but it goes without saying that political stability is essential for the preservation of law and order.
Just like Zambia, any other country may have room to accommodate another’s nationals, but this should not be a scapegoat for politicians to exploit innocent people.