UNHCR's Regional Director for Southern Africa commends Zambia’s efforts to continue to promote inclusion of refugees into national systems Zambia’s efforts to continue to promote inclusion of refugees into national systems.


UNHCR's Regional Director for Southern Africa commends Zambia’s efforts to continue to promote inclusion of refugees into national systems Zambia’s efforts to continue to promote inclusion of refugees into national systems.

UNHCR Zambia, 13 May 2024

URL: https://www.unhcr.org/africa/news/press-releases/unhcrs-regional-director-southern-africa-commends-zambia-s-efforts-continue
UNHCR's Regional Director for Southern Africa commends Zambia’s efforts to continue to promote inclusion of refugees into national systems.

The UN Refugee Agency's Regional Director for Southern Africa, Ms. Chansa Kapaya, wrapped up her 3-day official visit to Zambia on 8 May by applauding the country's commitments to adopt a progressive path to respond to forced displacement and refugee protection. Ms Kapaya praised the Government for its longstanding efforts in hosting and supporting refugees and other displaced persons in the country. She called for the timely implementation of Zambia’s National Refugee Policy, which was launched by Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Hon. J. Jack Mwiimbu, in Lusaka on 19 January 2024, which advances the ambition of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).

The GCR seeks predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing, recognizing that a sustainable solution to refugee situations cannot be achieved without responsibility sharing and a multi-stakeholder response. Zambia’s progressive path can serve as a good practice for other nations and can also attract development support to implement Zambia’s National Refugee Policy. During her visit Ms Kapaya met with a wide range of key stakeholders during her visit, including the Vice President, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, the Permanent Secretary North-Western Province, the UN team, cooperating partners and NGOs, and refugees.

The Regional Director for Southern Africa expressed solidarity with the people affected by the drought and commended the Government's decision to declare the drought a disaster in a timely manner. She assured the authorities that as part of the UN system in Zambia, UNHCR is working to respond to the Government's disaster appeal and will continue to play its role in persuading development partners to support the country. She used the occasion to encourage Zambia to adopt sustainable and resilient agricultural practices in the face of climate change. Ms Kapaya noted that while refugees are growing staple food crops in Zambia, they could also focus on vegetable-growing in the manner that Zambian families traditionally do to support dietary diversity at home. She described how refugees with limited access to land in Tanzania grow vegetables in sacks to save on water and encouraged that this could be an approach for refugees in Zambia.

In her meeting with the Vice President of Zambia, Her Honour Ms. Mutale Nalumango, Ms Kapaya discussed the importance of Zambia’s timely and quality implementation of pledges made at the second Global Refugee Forum held in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 2023 and previous commitments made in 2022 to support local solutions for specific refugee and former refugee groups. During her meeting with the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs and Internal Security, Mr Joseph Akafumba, there was a detailed discussion on these pledges and commitments.

“Fulfilling these promises will attract more development support and improve the lives of refugees and their Zambian host communities” she said. “UNHCR will work with the Zambian Government and cooperating partners on delivering sustainable programming to support the Government’s initiative to transform settlements into hubs for economic development”.

Ms Kapaya visited Makeni Refugee Transit Centre in Lusaka where she met with asylum-seekers to listen to their daily challenges. She also visited Meheba settlement in Kalumbila District where she interacted with students at Meheba ‘A’ Secondary School and farmers from the refugee and Zambian communities, and met with Chief Mumena, a key supporter of refugee inclusion. The Director for Southern African reaffirmed the Government’s position that “there is need for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to enable economic inclusion and solutions for forcibly displaced persons and the communities that host them.”

Ms Kapaya expressed her gratitude to the donor community, private sector, NGOs, and the UN family for supporting the Government, refugees, and host communities. She also commended Zambia for its forward-thinking approach to modernizing settlements, which will support enhance socio-economic opportunities for refugees and their hosts.

The Regional Director for Southern Africa emphasized the importance of freedom of movement for refugees in Zambia. This would allow them to become independent, choose where to live, enable their access decent work and establish sustainable livelihoods while positively contributing to the country's economy.



Zambia is home to more than 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers across three settlements (Mayukwayukwa, Meheba and Mantapala), and urban areas including Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola. The majority are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, and Somalia.

Zambia made the following pledges at the 2023 Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, Switzerland:
1. Enhanced Local Integration and Documentation: By the end of 2026 Zambia will issue residence permits to 50% of eligible former refugees after harmonisation of laws.
2. Empowering Refugees through Diversified Livelihoods: By the end of 2025, Zambia will support the recruitment and self-employment Ministry of 500 refugees in various fields while integrating 50% into skills training programs.
3. Digitized Civil Registration for Refugees: By the end of 2027, Zambia will implement a digital identification card, integrating 40% of the refugees into the Integrated National Registration Information System (INRIS).
4. Inclusion in Farmer Input Support Program (FISP): By the end of 2025, Zambia commits to including 20% of eligible refugees and former refugees in the FISP and Extension Services.
5. Comprehensive Inclusion in Education: By the end of 2024, Zambia will ensure that all refugees will have access to a full cycle of education, from early childhood to tertiary and Technical and Vocational Training, at the same level as Zambians without the requirement of a study permit.
6. Social Inclusion Through Sports, Arts, and Culture: By 2024, Zambia commits to supporting and facilitating the registration of six sports teams with various sports associations and organizing yearly cultural exchange programs between refugees and local communities.
7. Access to Electricity and Sustainable Energy: By 2027, the Government will connect all three refugee settlements, local integration schemes, and host community populations to the national electricity grid. Simultaneously, exploration of sustainable energy sources will be prioritized.
8. Inclusion in National Statistics: By the end of 2027, refugees will be included and distinctly reflected in national statistics, including census data.
9. Alternatives to Immigration detention: By the end of 2025 develop alternatives to immigration detention and ending of immigration detention of asylum seekers, refugees, stateless and migrant children and their families.
10. Health: By 2025 Zambia will build on existing processes of including refugees in the national health insurance scheme provided by National Health Insurance Management Authority (NHIMAH).


In Lusaka, Zambia, UNHCR Representation Office, Stephanie Perham, External Relations Officer: perham@unhcr.org, +260777229957 or Kelvin Shimoh, Communications Associate, shimo@unhcr.org, +260979585832