Assistant High Commissioner in Zambia
Assistant High Commissioner Søren Jessen-Petersen has urged more support for Zambia, which is tackling a fresh wave of refugees from the civil-war-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo. Jessen-Petersen told diplomats from UNHCR's main donor nations in Zambia's capital, Lusaka, on Friday that the UN refugee agency's planned US$10,000,000 budget for Zambia this year is likely to increase if civil wars in neighbouring countries continue to drive people out. Jessen-Petersen discussed contingency plans for a possible arrival in Zambia from the DRC of up to 100,000 people if the fighting in the Congo continues or intensifies. Jessen-Petersen expressed hope for an end to Congo's civil war but he said that at the same time the international aid community must be prepared for more refugees.
Jessen-Petersen, who has visited a string of camps for Congolese and Angolan refugees over the past three days, praised Zambia's generosity towards refugees, despite the adverse effect the influx has had on the country's infrastructure, environment and security in the border areas. He said he was particularly impressed with the way the Zambians have handled the very sensitive issue of separating combatants from civilians. He said serious security problems remained in areas where Congolese refugees, some of them armed, mixed with the local population, refusing to be housed in the existing camps. Zambia hosts almost 200,000 refugees from Angola and 38,000 refugees from the Congo.