‘COVID-19 restrictions stifle movement of refugees’

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BY CATHERINE MUCHIRI
A TOP official with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has attributed the decrease in the number of refugees coming into the country on COVID-19 restrictions.

UNHCR protection cluster coordinator Mwongeli Makau made the marks yesterday during a virtual meeting organised by Arrupe Jesuit University.

“UNHCR protects refugees by attaining favourable protection environments, assisting in realising rights in safe environments, empowering communities and achieving gender equality and securing solutions. Complementary pathways are offered in agreement with host nations through education opportunities, work visa, community sponsorship, family reunification and humanitarian visas,” Makau said.

“Movement of refugees into Zimbabwe decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Zimbabwe currently hosts 436  128 refugees, of which 6% are asylum seekers, 25% are internally displaced persons and 69% are Stateless persons.

The majority of the refugees in Zimbabwe are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Burundi.

Arrupe University vice-chancellor Joseph Afulo challenged youths to help in peace building, conflict resolution and reconciliation.

“Individuals flee from their motherlands because of consequences of war, bad governance, selfishness and greed in leaders. These practices lead to justified discrimination, injustice and oppression in distribution of natural resources,” he said.

Australian ambassador to Zimbabwe Bronte Moules said: “Countries should negotiate and adapt good resolutions that identify collective interests of both refugees and host countries and work towards achieving programme actions that will ensure refugee statuses meet global standards.”

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