Zambia Initiative launched

Briefing Notes, 27 August 2002

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 27 August 2002, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR on Friday launched a US$ 5 million special appeal to donors for the funding of development projects to benefit both refugee and local communities in the Western Province of Zambia. The appeal is part of a wider US$ 25 million budget of the "Zambia Initiative", a government-led plan to coordinate donors' efforts in reducing poverty, linking relief and development assistance, and contributing to peace and stability in refugee-hosting areas of Zambia.

The appeal covers an initial period of two years and should allow a number of small-scale projects to jump-start the initiative, while donors are expected to cover the remaining US$ 20 million that will be needed over the next five years. Programmes identified jointly with the government and the local communities themselves include projects in the field of agriculture (irrigation, crop production, poultry and fish farming), health (HIV/AIDS programmes, training, maternity wards, rural health centres), education (schools and vocational training centres, material and teachers) and infrastructure (water and sanitation, roads).

Several donor governments are already involved in this initiative, which began in 2001. During a meeting in early July, donors came back with concrete proposals: Denmark agreed to fund a school construction project, Japan said it would provide medical aid, while Sweden offered to take part in HIV/AIDS awareness training. The United States signalled that it would make a substantial contribution toward the $5-million appeal.

Zambia is currently host to 292,000 refugees, mainly from Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Despite recent positive developments in Angola, it is believed that a portion of Angolan refugees presently residing in Zambia will not return to Angola, at least not immediately. Many of these refugees have been in exile for more than 20 years and they will want to see the peace process solidify before they consider returning.

Meanwhile, Zambia has announced that a new Refugee Bill will be presented to Parliament in the next two months. The new bill will make it possible for long-staying refugees to apply for citizenship in Zambia.