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Monthly stipend for refugees in Zim

EACH of the more than 14 000 refugees and asylum seekers domiciled in the country will this month start receiving US$13 monthly allowances to cushion them.

Zimbabwe is home to more than 16 000 refugees, with 14 000 of them accommodated at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, Manicaland.

The cash facility is not new but Government had stopped it and replaced it with food rations when the country was experiencing cash flow challenges a few years ago.

Speaking at a regional symposium on the impacts of climate change on humanitarian issues being hosted by Government in collaboration with Sadc and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Victoria Falls, Mr Totamirepi Tirivavi who is a director for social development in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare said Zimbabwe is committed to playing its role after ratifying international conventions to protect refugees and asylum seekers.

“When we had cash crisis we changed from giving refugees cash and started giving them food rations. But there have been other needs so they end up trying to sell the rations or engaging in illegal charcoal making to sell and buy some of their needs besides food.

“This is another challenge but we are happy that starting this month they will get monthly allowances instead of rations. The idea is that they will get US$13 per head per month and this is good for the economy because they can buy from the market,” said Mr Tirivavi.

He said those eligible for the cash transfers are those who have no permits to work or do anything for a living in the country and cannot leave Tongogara Refugee Camp.

A person who enters Zimbabwe either through designated or undesignated entry points and quickly avails themselves to authorities are taken through vetting for the refugee status.

This is different from irregular immigrants who illegally enter the country either enroute to other countries or to stay and these are arrested and deported back to their countries if caught.

Government works with United Nations Human Rights Commission and International Organisation for Migration and other partners.

Refugees are entitled to identity documents, education and health services.

“We try to accord them as much rights as citizens.

The idea why we issue them with documents is that we want to make sure that no one is stateless and Government provides them with basic needs which is their right.

Where they qualify for skills they are considered for employment after acquiring permits and we have refugees who are doctors and others are in different professions,” said Mr Tirivavi.

Tongogara Camp is sitting on 870ha of land and has been in existence since the 1980s when it was used as a refugee camp for more than 58 000 Mozambicans who had fled war from their country and later repatriated in 1995 when peace was restored.

In the late 1990s, Government transferred refugees from a holding camp in Harare and put them at the site.

It is however prone to flooding and human wildlife conflict due to its proximity to Save Conservancy.

The centre is undertaking various projects such as agriculture for self-sustenance while it has also embraced greening technology with use of solar energy.

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