The President of Zambia Edgar Chagwa Lungu visited Kenani Transit Centre in the northern Zambia to assess the situation of over 6,000 refugees fleeing the violence and insecurity from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since the end of August.
With the onset of the rains, the President Lungu expressed concerned that the situation at the congested Kenani Transit Centre, situated in Nchelenge District of Luapula Province, may deteriorate further as more Congolese refugees, especially those currently staying in border villages, continue arriving at the transit center.
The transit center is currently receiving an average of 150 new arrivals per day.
"I am appealing to all donors, international community and humanitarian actors to do more and take action to prevent the situation in Nchelenge District turning into a humanitarian crisis," said the President Lungu. "The needs of refugees and host communities are many. UNHCR and other partners can only continue to provide assistance with the support of the international community".
The President Lungu toured the transit center, during which he met with Government and humanitarian workers as well as refugees. He also witnessed at first hand the various services and support provided to the refugees.
In order to decongest Kenani Transit Centre, the Government has offered 5,000 hectares of land to develop a new refugee settlement in Nchelenge District.
UNHCR Representative in Zambia Pierrine Aylara echoed the President's call for more resources to support the emergency response.
"There will need to set up basic facilities such as shelter, access roads, schools, and clinics," Ms. Aylara said. "We also appeal to the Government to improve the main access road to the new refugee settlement as well as engage the Rural Electrification Authority to extend the area to the national electricity network".
UNHCR, with the support from sister UN agencies and other partners, is currently providing protection and life-saving humanitarian assistance including food, water, sanitation, tents, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, hygiene and dignity kits and clothes to refugees hosted in Kenani Transit Centre.
Since January, over 6,000 Congolese refugees, 60 percent children, have been registered at Kenani Transit Centre.
An additional 3,500 Congolese refugees have been received in Zambia through other entry points, bringing the total number of Congolese seeking asylum in Zambia in 2017 to over 9,500. UNHCR has declared the humanitarian situation in the DRC as a Level 3 Emergency.
Zambia currently hosts some 63,000 refugees and others of concern, mostly from Angola, the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Somalia.
The vast majority reside in two established refugee settlements - Mayukwayukwa in Western Province and Meheba in North Western Province, while others live in urban areas or are self-settled in various parts of the country.