Rumbidzayi Zinyuke and Freedom Mutanda
Government is committed to ensuring the protection of the rights of its citizens including the refugees who are staying in the country, an official has said.
Speaking at the belated World Red Cross Day at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, Minister of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare Dr Sekai Nzenza said the growing number of refugees at the camp was a cause for concern and called for more interventions to ensure that the refugees’ dignity is maintained.
This year’s commemorations were held under the theme “Everywhere for everyone: Love”’.
“Here at Tongogara camp the Government’s main objective is to ensure that we are promoting human rights. The dignity of all here in this camp and the protection of all,” she said.
“There are other issues that need to be addressed such as the protection of children and vulnerable people, the disabled, the elderly as well as those suffering from psycho-social illnesses.
“As the minister responsible for the management and administration of Tongogara Camp, I am making a commitment that Government will listen to the challenges that are being faced here and address them. We are in the new dispensation. We no longer do business as usual. We have to do what is right. What is right for our people and what is right for the refugees.”
Tongogara Refugee Camp now has a population of 12 290 of whom 72 percent are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Others are from Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Burundi.
Minister Nzenza said the country had been recording an increase in the number of refugees from Mozambique as well.
She expressed concern at the high number of children enrolled at Tongogara Primary School who were being taught by a few available teachers.
“We have more than 2 000 school children at the primary school. The teacher to student ratio is way too high at one teacher to 60 students. This is a situation which my colleague in the Ministry of Education and I will be discussing to see how we can support the children here,” she said.
Speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society president Mr Edson Mlambo said the humanitarian issues the world faces needed a collective approach to solve.
“They will also be solved by people who come together fuelled by a determination and passion to alleviate human suffering,” he said.
He said the Red Cross was mandated to act as an auxilliary to public authorities giving the organisation authority to serve the most vulnerable people.
He said the Red Cross was one of the first organisations on the ground in Chimanimani after Cyclone Idai hit the area.
The organisation recognised 12 volunteers including Red Cross humanitarian ambassador Alick Macheso, and awarded them medals for the assistance they rendered during the cyclone disaster.