As the country celebrates World Refugees Day on Tuesday, the government has made a generous donation to the World Food Programme to meet the needs of more than 16 000 refugees living at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge.
Speaking at the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare permanent secretary Mr Simon Masanga said the government has the mandate to ensure refugees are food secure.
“Sometime last year WFP approached our ministry with a request to supply grain to 16 000 plus refugees at Tongogara Refugee Camp.
” We took this issue to the cabinet and it approved 4 400 metric tonnes. Not that we have enough grain but we have agreed at the international level to host refugees and as our President says no one should die of hunger, this includes the refugees as well,” he said.
He said apart from the food donations government has also installed an irrigation scheme helping the refugees at the camp and the ‘hosting Chipinge community’.
WFP country director Ms Francesca Erdelmann revealed that the partnership will see her organisation covering most of the costs in delivering grain.
“Under the partnership, WFP will cover the costs of transport, storage, handling, milling and fortification of the maize with funds from international donors. A first batch of 2,170 mt will be uplifted in the coming weeks.
“Nomatter the circumstances that have pushed refugees to flee their countries, we serve them without discrimination and ensure that they are able to put food on their tables,” she said.
The humanitarian agency will also dole US$1 million in cash transfers to the refugees.
Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Totamirepi Tirivavi revealed that the country receives 20 – 50 refugees per month and 80 percent are women and children.
Meanwhile, Secretary Masanga said plans are afoot to amend the Refugees Act so that refugees’ rights are protected fully.