MORE than 30 Zambian women married to Malian men are stranded in that country after either being widowed or divorced.
This came to light when Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba, who was in Bamako, Mali, to attend the Africa-France Summit on behalf of President Edgar Lungu, met Zambians living in that country.
Mr Kalaba met 35 women who expressed their anguish at the lives they living in Mali, many of them unable to return to Zambia because of missing travel documents.
Some of the women told the minister that they had not been to Zambia for more than 20 years, as their passports had either expired or gone missing.
Mr Kalaba assured the women that the Government was working hard to address their problems.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs public relations officer Dorcas Chileshe said in a statement yesterday that Mr Kalaba assured the affected women that the Zambian mission in Nigeria would deal with their concerns.
Association of Zambians Living in Mali president Lillian Mvula praised Mr Kalaba for finding time to meet the Zambian women, and the Zambian Embassy in Nigerian for their effort in assisting some women acquire passports.
She also appealed to the Government to give the women living in Mali land where they could build houses and settle when they return home.
Mr Kalaba said he had taken note of the concerns of the Zambian women and would ensure that the Zambian mission in Nigeria handled all issues raised amicably.
He urged women to take advantage of investment opportunities in Zambia and invest home just as their husbands had invested in Mali.
Mr Kalaba also appealed to the women to take their children to Zambia on a regular basis so that they could get to know other family members and learn the Zambian culture.
There are more than 200 Zambian women living in the capital, Bamako, although the total could be more than 1,000, including those in other provinces.
Meanwhile, Zambia is this year scheduled to sign three bilateral agreements with Ethiopia which will provide for visa waivers and the establishment of an Ethiopian Embassy in Zambia.
The signing of the bilateral agreements will be done at a Joint Permanent Commission (JPC), which will take place in Zambia.
Mr Kalaba said the JPC on co-operation was in a bid to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
Mr Kalaba said the JPC, which is scheduled to take place in Lusaka on March 28 this year, would improve trade and economic activities between the peoples of the two countries.
Mr Kalaba said this at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday.
This is according to a separate statement issued by the First Secretary Press and Tourism at the Zambian Embassy in Ethiopia Naomi Nyawali.