THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Social Welfare has urged the government to decongest Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge by granting renewable residents’ permits to refugees that have stayed in the country for several years.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This came out in a report on the welfare of refugees by the committee led by Magna Mudyiwa, which said Tongogara was overcrowded with 9 062 refugees and was facing shortages of land.
Parliament also recommended that the Labour and Social Welfare ministry should continuously assess refugees for resettlement to third countries and individuals who can afford to rent accommodation elsewhere be removed from Tongogara, as well as to move out refugees who intermarried with locals by October 2018.
“The Registrar-General should grant residence permits renewable every five years to refugees who consistently stay in the country to enable them to live outside the camp in order to reduce the population at Tongogara Refugee Camp,” the committee report read.
“At the time of the committee visit, the environment at Tongogara Refugee Camp was dirty while Waterfalls Referral Centre was in need of basic maintenance as grass and fallen trees were scattered over the place.”
The committee said the influx of refugees from Mozambique into Tongogara Camp increased demand for agricultural land. The available land can only accommodate 470 individuals out of the 9 062.
Infrastructure at Tongogara Refugee Camp was said to be very poor, with impassable roads during the rainy season.
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“Tongogara Refugee Camp is under threat from wild animals such as lions and elephants which stray from the nearby Devure Game Ranch due to the lack of a security fence. Although some security officers had been deployed by the Labour and Social Welfare ministry to safeguard administrative staff, refugees and assets, they were unarmed which exposed them to attacks by wild animals and robbers as well,” the report read.
Only four police officers were said to be servicing a population of 9 062 refugees at the camp.
“Refugees highlighted that they were experiencing difficulties in acquiring birth certificates for their children born in Zimbabwe. They said they experienced challenges in accessing adequate basic needs such as food, soap and sanitary pads,” the report read.