HUMANITARIAN organisation, World Food Program (WFP) has warned of a possible increase in refugees flocking into Zimbabwe amidst indications that 6000 Mozambican refugees are already camped at the buffer zone between Zimbabwean and Mozambique awaiting relocation to Tongogara camp in Chipinge.
By Michael Gwarisa
According to WFP, due to clashes between Mozambican government forces and Renamo, and renewed insecurity in the Kasai Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an increased number of refugees entered the country in 2017.
The situation if unabated, could lead to serious health problems ranging from malnutrition due to food shortage as well as reduction in water and sanitation services as the facilities at the camp may not be able to handle the amplified refugee burden.
Responding to questions during an event to mark one year of progress under the WFP Zimbabwe’s five year strategic plan, WFP Country Director Mr Eddie Rowe said the issue of land to build more facilities at Tongogara in the event that the Mozambican emigrants were cleared to settle at the camp was not an issue but the nutrition and sanitation situation could be threatened.
“Due to clashes between Mozambican government forces and Renamo, and renewed insecurity in the Kasai Region of DRC, an increased number of refugees entered the country in 2017. According to statistics from the ministry of labour and social welfare, we have 11 000 refugees at Tongogara refugee camp. However, since last year, we are aware of between 4 and 6 000 Mozambican refugees that are on the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
“As for the issue of the land and area to accommodate them, that is not a problem, the land is available. However, if we increase the capacity it also means we have to provide adequate services ranging from water and sanitation and nutrition,” said Mr Rowe.
He however added that WFP was working with the Government of Zimbabwe and UNHCR to support the relocation of refugees residing at the buffer zone between Mozambique and Zimbabwe to Tongogara Refugee Camp, and to provide food assistance to the refugees residing there, with funding support from the United States and China.
Meanwhile, 11,272 refugees received WFP assistance last month from WFP and in partnership with GOAL, WFP has also piloted livelihood activities such as chicken rearing and agriculture at the camp.
“WFP also continues to provide lean season assistance in the most food insecure districts and wards as determined by the ZimVAC Annual Rural Livelihood Assessment, taking into consideration Government and partner response capacities,” he added.
United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator who was also guest of honor at the event, Bishow Parajuli appealed for assistance from partners in the international community to intervene in this pending crisis.
“The sad fact is these people come to other countries as refugees for certain reasons. They are depending on the basic need of help in term of education, health support, food, sanitation, and shelter. We have a challenge in meeting those requirements, what I want to say is we depend on support from partners.
“I am told that the support that is needed to help them is not there. We are therefore appealing to partners for support. Refugees need support to improve their health, sanitation and nutrition and education until the time they return to their country. Support from our partners is really fundamental in improving livelihoods of refugees,” said Parajuli.