Africa Moyo,Deputy News Editor
Zimbabwe is working with a number of organisations, including the church and development partners, to improve the living conditions of refugees.
This was said by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima during a plenary session on Burden and Responsibility Sharing during the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
The country hosts 13 000 refugees and thousands other stateless persons.
The majority of refugees in Zimbabwe are from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Rwanda and Burundi.
Prof Mavima said Zimbabwe continued to meet its obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Problems of Refugees’ Situations in Africa.
“In providing for refugees, the Government of Zimbabwe is working with development partners, non-governmental organisations and churches,” he said.
“For instance, the Government has partnered with the African Development Bank to expand the irrigation programme at Tongogara Refugee Camp for the benefit of both refugees and the host community in an effort to enhance self-reliance and food security.
“The Government is also working with Goal Zimbabwe in the provision of water and sanitation and Terres Des Hommes (TDH) Zimbabwe in respect of improving the education for children of the refugees.”
Prof Mavima said while Government continued to improve the welfare and education of refugees in tandem with the commitments submitted at this week’s Global Refugee Forum, it was considering other durable solutions, including access to the labour market and integration.
He thanked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for supporting Zimbabwe during and after Cyclone Idai.
Zimbabwe was ready to work with the UNHCR and other UN agencies in organising a regional symposium on climate change and forced displacement, he said.
The high-level Forum ran from December 17 to 18. Zimbabwe, whose delegates included Mr Kindness Paradza, chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, joined representatives from other countries that gathered to collectively find lasting solutions that could prevent the surge in refugee numbers.
Forced displacements on account of wars, conflicts and climate change induced disasters are rising in Africa. Latest UNHCR statistics show that Africa accounts for more than 21 million of the world’s forcibly displaced 70 million persons.
The conference was the first of its kind organised by the Geneva-based UNHCR and principally sought to receive concrete pledges and commitment from UN member states towards ending the refugee crisis.
Over 750 pledges of support covering areas such as protection, employment, and education, for refugees and the communities that have taken them in.
Development banks, States and other stakeholders made financial commitments of US$10 billion, according to a preliminary analysis of the UNHCR.