26 December 2012

Zambia: 718 DRC Refugees to Leave for Maheba Camp

ABOUT 718 refugees who fled Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into Zambia will today be ferried to Maheba refugee camp in North-Western Province.

Nchelenge District Commissioner Joseph Chisakula said the 718 refugees from 118 families were willing to be taken to Maheba by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

About 960 refugees from the vast neighbouring country entered Zambia and were temporarily accommodated at Kilwa Island on Lake Mweru in Nchelenge District.

The refugees will be assembled at Nchelenge High School for routine screening before being transferred to Maheba.

"That is just about those who are willing to be repatriated to Maheba. There are others who don't want the olive branch we have offered them which means they have to go back to Congo," he said.

Mr Chisakula said the refugees who were not willing to go to Maheba would have to get back to their country because the Zambian Government and UNHCR would not afford to look after them at Kilwa island.

He said today's repatriation exercise would also cover the asylum seekers who entered Zambia through Chipungu border in Chiengi after the panic caused when the M23 rebels.

Meanwhile, Mr Chisakula has said a security team has intensified patrols on Lake Mweru to enforce the fish ban that has continued to be flouted by fishermen who live in settlements on the lakeshores.

Mr Chisakula said all the people living around the fish breeding areas will have to willingly migrate to the mainland and do some cultivation as another source of livelihood.

"Am appealing to these people living along breeding grounds on their own or else we shall move them by force. Even those who live on the Lake itself our combined security team will fish them out," he said.

Government imposes a fish ban from December 1 to end of February the following year but some fish mongers defy it arguing that fishing was their only source of living.

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