Zim, Moza to discuss refugees repatriation 

Source: Zim, Moza to discuss refugees repatriation – Sunday News May 6, 2018

Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE United Nations High Commission on Refugee (UNHCR) in conjunction with Zimbabwean and Mozambican Governments have set in motion plans to begin repatriation of Mozambican refugees to their native country, allaying fears of a possible influx of exiles into Zimbabwe.

Press reports from Mozambique suggest that there are about 4 000 Mozambicans settled at the buffer zone between Zimbabwe and Mozambique waiting to cross over into Zimbabwe. UNHCR Representative in Zimbabwe Mr Robert Tibaqwa told Sunday News last week that “the few” refugees settled at the border of the two countries were less likely to cross into Zimbabwe.

Mr Tibaqwa said peace talks between the warring parties in Mozambique had seen the number of asylum seekers flocking to Zimbabwe drastically going down over the past year.

“UNHCR, the Government of Zimbabwe and the Government of Mozambique are preparing for discussions to start voluntary repatriation of Mozambicans to their country of origin. We are not expecting a major influx of asylum seekers from Mozambique because the protagonists are talking. There has been no fighting between the protagonists, which we know of, for over a year now. The rate of asylum seeker arrivals has drastically reduced in 2017 and continues to decline in 2018,” he said.

Mr Tibaqwa said UNHCR continues to encourage protagonists in Mozambique to conclude an agreement to end conflict permanently.

He said in the event that the situation in Mozambique changes drastically for the worst, resulting in a major influx of refugees Zimbabwe and UNHCR among other UN agencies were prepared to respond accordingly.

“The Government of Zimbabwe, with the help of UNHCR, UN agencies and NGOs will respond appropriately including the expansion of Tongogara refugee camp and identification of other sites where asylum seekers can be accommodated,” said Mr Tibaqwa.

He said UNHCR is assisting asylum seekers and refugees in Zimbabwe, with health care, food, education, shelter, domestic items and host of other life-saving services.

A total of 11 272 refugees housed at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, Manicaland last month received assistance from World Food Programme in partnership with GOAL. WFP has also piloted livelihood activities such as chicken rearing and agriculture at the camp.

WFP country director Mr Eddie Rowe said the organisation works in partnership with UNHCR and the Government to provide food assistance to refugees at the camp. He said the WFP was not clear on the status of the estimated 6 000 refugees camped at the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

According to WFP, since 2016, the continued conflicts in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to an influx of refugees into Zimbabwe which resulted in a 25 percent increase in the camp population. The humanitarian organisation projects an increase in the number of refugees flocking to Zimbabwe due to the security situation prevailing in the neighbouring countries.

WFP provides $13 per person per month —equivalent to a complete food basket consisting of maize meal, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar, and salt — to meet a person’s full daily energy requirements based on a 2 100 kilocalories per day diet.

Chronically ill people were provided with a top-up ration of three kilogrammes per person per month of super cereal through camp health facilities to ensure speedy nutrition rehabilitation. With Renamo leader Mr Afonso Dhlakama’s death last week, the peace negotiations in Mozambique might have suffered a setback and may have implications on the refugee situation.