About 122 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) refugees who entered the country last week after fleeing from war in their country have conspicuously disappeared from Kilwa Island in Nchelenge.
Over 181 Congolese refugees entered the country last week following renewed fighting between Mai Mai insurgents and government forces.
Nchelenge district commissioner Joseph Chisakula said in an interview from Nchelenge yesterday that the refugees allegedly refused to go to Meheba Refugee Camp in North-Western Province when United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) officials went to ferry them last week.
Mr Chisakula said the refugees allegedly ran away from UNHCR officials.
He said he will soon contact the Immigration Department to move in and arrest the ‘elusive’ Congolese nationals as they did not have the documents to live in Zambia.
Mr Chisakula declared the Congolese nationals as prohibited immigrants.
“UNHCR officials only managed to get 36 refugees from Kilwa Island in Nchelenge and 32 from Chienge. We initially had over 100 refugees on Kilwa Island but these others escaped, they didn’t want to go to Solwezi. We have no choice but to involve the Immigration Department,” he said.
Mr Chisakula warned the refugees against disregarding the country’s laws.
“Those who refused to go to North-Western Province said they had sick relatives while others claimed that they were looking for their relatives whom they believe are dead, but they should have gone to Solwezi instead of remaining behind on the island,” Mr Chisakula said.
He said the missing 122 refugees were being accommodated by various Zambians on Kilwa Island.
Mr Chisakula said only 36 refugees were on Friday morning ferried to Meheba Refugee Camp by UNHCR officials.
“They left on Friday, we are just saddened that these others decided to refuse despite the efforts which were made by various stakeholders to ferry them to North-Western Province,” he said.
Source: Zambia Daily Mail