Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Petronella Kagonye has hailed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for its commitment to compliment Government of Zimbabwe efforts in managing the welfare of refugees.
Min Kagonye said the country is currently home to 11 000 refugees at Tongogara camp and continues to receive more refuges and asylum seekers daily.
She said they are facing a number of challenges in the management of refugees among them food and accommodation.The minister was speaking on the side lines of a meeting on courtesy call with UNHCR Country Director Robert Tibagwa held in Harare yesterday.
“As you are aware my Ministry is responsible for the welfare and assistance of refugees under the 1952 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees. We are getting refugees and asylum seekers almost every day and as a Ministry we are facing a number of challenges among them being proper accommodation and food,” said Min Kagonye.
Tibagwa applauded the Government of Zimbabwe for its effort to ensure the safety and well-being of the refugees and asylum seekers in Zimbabwe.
“I would like to extend my heart-felt gratitude to the Government of Zimbabwe for its kind gesture,” he said.
Min Kagonye said her ministry is taking some great strides to ensure a safe return of the refugees back to their countries since most of the countries like Rwanda are now at peace.
“They were supposed to leave last year before 31 December and currently the ministry needs about three months to finalise the end of their stay here,” she said.
Zimbabwe hosts approximately 17 500 persons of concern with some 11 000 being refugees and asylum seekers registered at Tongogara camp in Chipinge.
An estimated 6 500 Mozambican asylum seekers are living in various villages in Nyanga and Chipinge districts.
Research done by the UNHCR indicates that refugees and asylum seekers in Zimbabwe are mainly from DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Mozambique and the horn of Africa. H-Metro