United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has commended government of Zimbabwe’s commitment to include refugees and asylum-seekers in the national COVID-19 response and related national vaccination plans.
Soeaking at the end of her three-day visit to Zimbabwe, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs was happy to note that refugees and asylum-seekers in Zimbabwe have access to health and education systems.
Triggs met with partners, donors, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Frederick Makamure Shava, and the Minister of Public Services, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima.
“We had very open and constructive discussions with the government on all issues relating to the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers in the country. I’m encouraged that the government will reinforce their commitment to improving refugee protection in accordance with international law,” said Triggs.
“Zimbabwe submitted 14 pledges during the Global Refugee Forum in 2019 and the High-Level Panel on Statelessness. There were seven to improve the situation of refugees in the country and seven on statelessness. I thank the Government for this bold decision in support of refugees and to address statelessness issues, I encourage them to fulfill all the commitments,” said Triggs.
Triggs went to the Tongogara refugee camp as part of her visit, where nearly 15,000 refugees and asylum-seekers live. She met with UNHCR’s partners, local authorities and the camp management. There she also saw first-hand the few livelihoods projects being carried out to support the self-reliance of the people living in the camp.
“Access to livelihoods opportunities, skills development, education, health, safety and security including peaceful co-existence with the host community are contributing to a favorable protection environment. Besides, access to cash to facilitate their daily lives is fundamental for refugees to live in dignity. I’m pleased to see that the Government, together with partners and UNHCR in the country, are working on this,” said Triggs.
Triggs pointed out that more needs to be done to improve the lives of refugees and asylum-seekers.
Zimbabwe is home to more than 22,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. Most refugees live in the Tongogara refugee camp in Manicaland province and a small population lives in urban areas. Zimbabwe hosts mainly refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Burundi and Rwanda.