Meheba (Zambia): refugees ordered to return to the camps

Meheba (Zambia): refugees ordered to return to the camps

Immigration services in Zambia have issued an ultimatum to all refugees in the capital Lusaka to return to their respective camps. Immigration announces a vast manhunt to enforce the decision. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

Zambia hosts more than 105,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Most of those assisted by the UNHCR are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, as well as Angolan refugees and former Rwandan refugees.

They reside in the three major refugee camps of Mantapala, Meheba and Mayukwayukwa in Lusaka and other urban centres.

Immigration advises all refugees who have income-generating activities and others who work in the capital Lusaka to return to their camps.

“You are requested to return to the refugee camps immediately. Because there is a campaign to track down refugees without residence papers in urban centers. The hunt may take a month, day and night and if you are caught outside the camp, you will be arrested or deported,” reads a statement from Zambian immigration.

At the beginning of this month, the police carried out patrols to track down undocumented migrants in certain urban centers such as Manyama located about thirty km from the Meheba camp and Kisasa in northern Zambia. Eight refugees, including Burundians, were surprised and taken to jail.

Those concerned and the host community denounce an obstacle to freedom of movement.

“These refugees do have permission to leave the camp commonly called ‘Gate Pass’. It’s just a way to bully the refugees who are trying to survive while the government and UNHCR are no longer giving them any food assistance,” their angry neighbors in Meheba camp explain.

They recommend the revision of the rules of the game around these permissions to leave the camp, respect for the right to mobility, to education and to do business. They also demand the release of the refugees in detention.

The police and immigration explain that this is a routine check and that permission to leave the camp does not take the place of work permits.

Zambia hosts more than 8,000 Burundian refugees.

Previous Bunyoni affair: the commander of the riot unit replaced
Next South Kivu: the online press says it is threatened by the provincial media minister