Japan assists refugees, asylum-seekers in Zim

Albert Chavhunduka

Japan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Satoshi Tanaka says his country is dogged to maintain fruitful ties with Zimbabwe particularly in the area of development and cooperation and its support for human security of vulnerable people.

The Government of Japan donated over US$370 000 through the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR-Zimbabwe) to protect, empower and assist refugees and asylum-seekers in the country.

Ambassador Tanaka said development cooperation to ensure human security in Zimbabwe remained a key priority for Japan.

“One of the priority areas for Japan’s development cooperation with Zimbabwe is support to ensure human security of vulnerable people, which includes refugees. Given the scarcity of resources available for refugees, I hope that this assistance will go a long way towards addressing their basic health and WASH needs,” he said.

“The support from Japan will assist at least 14 894 refugees and asylum-seekers at Tongogara Refugee Camp as well as 3000 host community members to ensure that they have access to public health services, safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities including toilets, bathroom facilities and hygiene promotion. Access to public health services will include access to primary, secondary and tertiary care as well as HIV and reproductive health care and mental health care.”

UNHCR Representative in Zimbabwe Abdoulaye Barry stressed the long-standing partnership between the Embassy of Japan in Zimbabwe and UNHCR which is traced back to 2010 and how the Government of Japan is one of the largest donors supporting the UNHCR.

Barry added that, “the new project is in line with UNHCR’s 2022 strategy and planned interventions and will be implemented in coordination with Government authorities and partners.”

In a statement, the UNHCR said it was providing protection and assistance to over 22 000 refugees and asylum-seekers with a large chunk of refugees fleeing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“UNHCR Zimbabwe provides protection and assistance to around 22,400 refugees and asylum-seekers and the communities hosting them. Most of the refugees reside in Tongogara Refugee Camp, in Manicaland province, southeastern Zimbabwe, while few of them live in urban areas, mainly in Harare.

Approximately, 74% of the refugees and asylum-seekers registered by UNHCR are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while 11% come from Mozambique, 6% from Burundi, 5% from Rwanda, and 4% other nationalities.

“Apart from the contributions from the Government of Japan, UNHCR partnered in 2021 with a Japanese retailer UNIQLO to provide winter and summer clothing to refugees and asylum-seekers. The Zimbabwe operation has been a beneficiary of UNIQLO donations which have made a difference in the lives of refugees, asylum-seekers and host communities. UNHCR is immensely grateful to the people of Japan for their commitment to the people forced to flee their home countries.”

Zimbabwe is home to more than 22 400 refugees and asylum-seekers, with a host of them coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, followed by Mozambique, Burundi and Rwanda.

Most refugees live in the Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge District in the Manicaland province while a small population live in urban areas.

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