The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)’s Executive Committee (ExCom) Chairman, Jan Knutsson of Sweden will arrive in Zambia today, Wednesday 30 May 2012 for a four-day official visit.
According UNHCR Zambia spokesperson Kelvin Shimo, Knutsson will on the same day of arrival hold separate consultative meetings with the ceremonial Vice President Guy Scott and the Minister of Home Affairs Kennedy Sakeni.
Knutsson, who is Sweden’s Permanent Representative to the UN agencies and other international organisations in Geneva,
Switzerland will also hold consultative meetings members of the Diplomatic Corps, UN agencies and visit Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement while in Zambia.
According to Shimo, the UNHCR ExCom Chairman’s visit to Zambia comes at a crucial time when there is imminent cessation of refugee status for Angolan refugees as of 30 June 2012, the need to support voluntary repatriation for the thousands who have expressed an intention to return prior to cessation, as well as on-going work on the possibility of local integration for
some refugees who are seeking to remain in Zambia, given their long stay in the country and the ties which have been forged.
UNHCR Representative in Zambia, Ms Joyce Mends-Cole, has described the visit of the UNHCR ExCom Chairman as a show of appreciation for Zambia’s long standing and exemplary record in hosting refugees and a signal of the importance UNHCR attaches to the search for durable solutions, especially in light of the invocation of the cessation clause for Angolan refugees on 30 June 2012.
Currently made up of 87 members including Zambia since 2004, UNHCR’sgoverning ExCom meets in Geneva annually in October to elect its chairperson, review and approve the agency’s programmes and budget, advise on international protection and discuss a wide range of other issues with UNHCR and its intergovernmental partners.
ExCom’s StandingCommittee meets several times each year to carry on the body’s work between plenary sessions. By tradition, the chair is held in alternating years by donor and non-donor Country Permanent representatives in
Zambia held the chair in 2007, Shimo told the Watchdog.
Zambia currently hosts some 46, 000 refugees mostly from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The vast majority reside in two settlements – Mayukwayuka in Western Province and Meheba in Northwest Province, while others live in urban areas or are self-settled in various locations.