Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Refugees and our "home" at Mwaiseni, Itawa Extension

As I was searching and searching for a place to stay for the remainder of the week, I finally found this guest house about 20 kilometers from town. It is definitely 'not convenient' however it is self-contained. In preparation, I went to the market and bought essentials to have at the house. I got here, settled in, unpacked, did some work, washed (by hand) some laundry and now I am preparing dinner.

Malela has still not reached Ndola, he called from Kasumbalesa (border-crossing of DR Congo and Zambia) about
5 1/2 hours ago and mentioned the long list of difficulties he had just getting into Zambia (on the DRC side....of course). First it was, "you need to pay more money because you have an old passport and not a new one" to another fee for....??????? who knows what. Then the struggle of getting to the main town of Ndola via public transport, not entirely reliable, to finding this little gem which is outside of town! Christian will for sure be hungry!
En route to the house I took a few photos of the 'streets' of Ndola. There are still quite a number of functional and operational railways, they run across the country though not on any schedule in particular. What I have noticed different here is the amount of advertisements! There are billboards every 100 feet (of course none pictured here....ha). There are great artists throughout eastern Africa and utilizing this craft seems nothing short of appropriate.
As we are in one of the largest known mining hubs of Africa, the Copperbelt of Africa, it seems there are as many expats as cars (not a lot but definitely more than a handful). Every local that I have engaged in conversation with thus far works with a mining company or is related to work with a mining company- it's crazy.
Ok, as for the current DRC-Zambia situation with regards to the influx of refugees; here are some statistics- do keep in mind, elections are to be held on the 23rd of December 2018:

Summary Points:

 A total 14,053 refugees are now residing in Nchelenge – 10,858 in Mantapala and 3,195 in self-settled in surrounding villages
 Mulwe road (the short road to Mantapala) is being worked on by RDA. RO and MoA are looking at other places were farm plots could be demarcated as some areas in Mantapala 2 are not adequate for farming. COR to provide more information next week
 UNICEF to share report on flood prone areas in Mantapala and recommendations on the way forward, especially in Blocks 8, 11 and 14.
 The Apostolic church is interested in doing WASH in Mantapala and Lusaka. Further details to be shared by COR.
 ADRA is interested in supporting shelter, and potentially other sectors. More details to be shared by COR/UNHCR.
 MoGE has not assigned teachers to Mantapala yet. COR to follow up. There have been reports in the media that a certain cassava disease is affecting crops in Luapula and refugees are being mentioned as a possible cause for this. COR and UNHCR to follow up.
 UNHCR will revise the estimated population figures for 2019-2020 and share with partners.
 In line with the Country Refugee Response Plan (CRRP), COR is undertaking a needs assessment in all field locations (Meheba, MYK, Mantapala). The results will be shared by early October and will be used for CRRP planning. UNHCR to call a meeting for this shortly.

This is a coordinated effort by both initiating and operating partners of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) addressing the most urgent of needs for the recent influx of Refugees. 
Moreover, with the most recent influx of Congolese refugees in Zambia, Angola has been "relieved" of over 300, 000 Congolese as they have returned back to the DRC. (

Why does this pose as odd? Well, if thousands of refugees are fleeing the DRC (for Zambia) yet hundreds of thousands have left Angola and have returned back to the DRC, ummmmm, what? Let me explain, let me try to explain...
  • Angola MADE the Congolese refugees leave- they gave them an ultimatum: "Angolan authorities had set an ultimatum to all persons with an irregular migrant status to leave the country within 15 days, classifying the operation as targeting illegal immigration and illegal exploitation of informal mines."
    • This was the case in Zambia while I was here back in 2007- the authorities would drive through the Kawambwa refugee camp with a bullhorn telling the refugees to "go home, go back to your country". There were other 'incentives' and threats as well, but I'd rather not mention now.
  • Why is this not only dangerous but also a serious human rights violation? The areas of return for the majority of those coming from Angola are limited to certain provinces, and those are the same provinces and neighboring, where there is unrest and danger. 
  •  Furthermore, with a number THAT high, it is hard to provide for: shelter, food, water etc... the most basic of needs are already scarce. And let's not forget, when a refugee returns home, they are returning with less than the basics.
Lastly, here is a map (for anyone even reading any of this) to help with identifying the geography of above provinces:

Ok folks- I'm going to sign off for now. It's dinner time and I have to track down's officially dark (6:20pm) and still no sign!? Until tomorrow- be well.

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