Lusaka – World leaders should display unflinching political will to redress internal conflicts that aggravate displacement of people, more so as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the globe, the United Nations refugee agency says.
Globally, asylum seekers comprising girls and boys under the age of 18 account for 42 percent of all forcibly displaced people, whose total stands at over 82 million.
On Refugee Day (June 20), UN High Commissioner for Refugees Mr Filippo Grandi called on world leaders to introspect and embrace peace, stability and co-operation.
The number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations in 2020 rose to nearly 82.4 million people, four percent higher than the previous year’s record of 79.5 million.
“Behind each number is a person forced from their home and a story of displacement, dispossession and suffering. They merit our attention and support not just with humanitarian aid, but in finding solutions to their plight.
“While the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Global Compact on Refugees provide the legal framework and tools to respond to displacement, we need much greater political will to address conflicts and persecution that force people to flee in the first place,” said Mr Grandi.
The UNHCR estimate is that almost one million children were born as refugees between 2018 and 2020. Many of them may remain refugees for years to come.
“The tragedy of so many children being born into exile should be reason enough to make far greater efforts to prevent and end conflict and violence,” said Mr Grandi.
Meanwhile, the UNHCR in Zambia is battling to provide assistance to more than 94,000 asylum seekers.
According to Zambian Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Abdon Mawere, the US$22 million allotted to such operations in the country was US$3.8 million less than the figure required to provide for the needs of asylum seekers in six camps and settlements.
In recent weeks, Zambia received over 500 asylum seekers, including 348 refugees, mainly children and women from DRC. They have mostly settled at Mantapala Camp in the northeast of the country.
“We are overwhelmed by asylum seekers that continue coming into Mantapala Camp from Kivu in DR Congo, and the urban settlements, our biggest challenge is that most of our humanitarian friends have diverted their resources towards the fight against COVID 19,” said Mr Mawere this week.