By Francis Maingaila
Victims of the recent xenophobic attacks in Zambia on Monday demanded the government speed up a compensation process for the losses they have suffered.
A spokesman for refugees in Zambia, Emile Hatungimana, used World Refugee Day to tell journalists that victims of mob violence had lost everything and were now destitute.
Many refugees in Zambia come from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola.
On April 21, President Edgar Lungu apologized to victims of the attacks, promising that his government would compensate all foreign nationals that suffered losses at the hands of Zambian mobs who went on the rampage after rumors of foreigners practicing ritual killings rocked Lusaka.
Hatungimana said: “I wish, on behalf of the refugee community in Zambia, to make an appeal for compensation from the Zambian government. This compensation we seek is to enable communities that lost property during the attack to begin their life again.”
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative in Zambia, Janet Rogan, observed that although the compensation was necessary, the UNHCR was not in a position to force the Zambian government to compensate victims.
Speaking to victims of xenophobic attacks who had gathered in Lusaka to commemorate World Refugee Day, Rogan said: “While UNHCR was not in a position to compensate all the refugees affected by the xenophobic attacks, through the agency implementing partner, Action Africa Help International – Zambia, assistance would be given to the most desperate cases.”
Rogan urged refugees to actively contribute to finding solutions to their situation, in full respect of Zambian laws.