Two Traditional Leaders supports local integration of Angolans and Rwandis into their chiefdoms
Two North Western Province traditional leaders have assured Government that they support the local integration of Angolans and Rwandis in their chiefdoms.
Chiefs Mumena and Matebo of the Kaonde people in Zambia’s North western province town of Solwezi, under which Meheba Refugee Settlement falls, re-affirmed their support and commitment to the government led local integration process during a visit to their palaces by Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, Dr. Peter Mwaba.
Dr. Mwaba was on a familiarization tour of the refugee settlement and the two chiefdom, to meet with refugees and former refugees and check on the progress of local integration program.
Chief Mumena, who was visited first, commended the efforts Government and UNHCR have put in place to move forward the local integration program.
“I am happy with the effort the Government, together with UNHCR, have put in place to move forward this program.
The refugees are our brothers and sisters we have lived with since before 1964, even before I became a chief.
We offered them land in Meheba and we are ready to live with them under the local integration exercise. Even when we have our ceremony, the refugees have been celebrating with us,” said chief Mumena.
The chief observed that there will be no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to the local integration of Rwandans, as similar procedures applied to Angolans could be applied.
The traditional ruler, however, called on the Government and UNHCR, through the local integration development programme, to continue implementing various developmental activities in his chiefdom, emphasizing on the need for infrastructure development in education,health and agriculture, in order for the local integration of former refugees to be sustainable.
Chief Mumena praised the various developmental activities UNHCR, together with Government, has embarked on so far in his area.
Chief Matebo, who was visited later, echoed the same sentiments, commending the Government and UNHCR for the various developmental activities the two have embarked on in his area, such as bee-keeping, poultry and the construction of a classroom block.
Dr. Mwaba emphasised the critical role the traditional leadership plays in fostering co-existence between the refugees and the host community.
He applauded the support and collaboration Government has received from Chief Mumena and Matebo as it implements the local integration program.
UNHCR Representative in Zambia, Ms Laura Lo Castro also commended the chiefs for their support to her agency and the refugees and former refugees.
She assured that UNHCR, working with Government, will play its advocacy role to lobby donors to support local integration development activities in Western and North Western Provinces.
According to Mr. Joseph Musonda, the Meheba Refugee Officer, 4200 individual former Angolan refugees have applied and have been screened for local integration in the settlement. Once the local integration programme is completed, the eligible applicants will be resettled within Meheba, in an area designated for local integration.
Meanwhile, UNHCR on Tuesday officially handed over a classroom block comprising two classrooms, Headmaster’s office and a strong room at Matebo Primary School in Solwezi, which was constructed with funding from the UN refugee Agency with the support of Donors.
The classroom block, in Chief Matebo’s Chiefdom was constructed at a cost of K209, 000 under the local integration programme, jointly
implemented by the Government of Zambia and UNHCR to support former refugees and to assist hosting communities around Meheba and Mayukwayukwa refugee settlements.
The classroom block was handed over by the UN Refugee Agency Representative to Zambia, Ms Laura Lo Castro to Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, Dr. Peter Mwaba, who officiated at the ceremony on behalf of the Government.
During the hand-over ceremony, Ms Lo Castro underlined the fact that UNHCR is not a development agency, but within its limited resources tries to assist the local communities in refugee hosting areas.
She expressed her gratitude to the people and Government of the Republic of Zambia for the active support and commitment to hosting former refugeesand refugees.
Ms Lo Castro assured that her agency will advocate to ensure various developmental activities are implemented in refugee-hosting-areas, by lobbying donors and other development stakeholders that support the local integration program.
The request to UNHCR to assist with the construction of the classroom block at Matebo Primary School was made by the residents of Matebo, during consultation undertaken by the Government and UNHCR at the start of the process of local integration of former refugees in 2012.
UNHCR is currently funding various projects – such as poultry, bee-keeping,fish ponds and irrigation projects – in Chief Mumena and Matebo in Solwezi and Chief Mwene Mutondo in Kaoma.
he Permanent Secretary thanked UNHCR for assisting the government by funding the construction of the classroom block, which will increase the capacity at the school and the success rate of students from both communities of former refugees and Zambians.
Zambia currently hosts 53, 019 people of concern mainly from Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia.