By CATHERINE NYIRENDA –
CANADA has donated 3 million Canadian dollars, (equivalent to US$2.7) million, to support the Government, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The money is meant to help the Government and UNHRC implement the local integration programme for former Angolan refugees in Zambian.
Canadian High Commissioner to Zambia, Kumar Gupta, said his government was pleased to support the local integration programme that would benefit and enhance the quality of life for former Angolan refugees.
Mr Gupta said the Canadian Government attached importance to finding durable solutions for refugees, hence its support to the local integration programme.
He described the local integration programme that Zambia had embraced as a rare and exemplary initiative in Africa worth supporting by various co-operating partners.
UNHCR country representative Laura Lo Castro, described the Canadian contribution as timely as it would help kick-start the implementation of the local integration programme, which had reached a critical stage.
She described Canada as a key partner for UNHCR in protecting and assisting refugees, especially those in protracted situations.
“UNHCR needs the sustained support of its key partners to implement protection and assistance programmes in support to Government’s efforts, especially now at the onset of a critical phase of the local integration programme for former Angolan and Rwandan refugees,” she said.
Home Affairs Minister Ngosa Simbyakula expressed gratitude to Canada for support towards local integration programme in Zambia.
Dr Simbyakula urged cooperating partners to support the programmes targeting former refugees and Zambian citizens.
He assured the international community of Government’s commitment to full accountability in the use of donated funds.
He said the local integration programme, implemented jointly by the Government and UNHCR, required about $20 million to cover the implementation period from 2014-2016.
The funding would support legal integration through paying for residence permits for the most vulnerable former refugees and rehabilitation of crucial social infrastructure such as schools and health centres,
Zambia currently hosts more than 53, 000 refugees mainly from Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Somalia.
The majority of these reside in the two settlements, while the rest are in urban areas or self-settled.