NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
MINISTER of Home Affairs Davies Mwila says 475 refugee children have dropped out of school this year due to lack of financial support.
Mr Mwila said about 200 identified children at both Meheba and Mayukwayukwa refugee settlements have not been able to attend school and 275 urban refugees are faced with a similar challenge.
The minister said this on Thursday in a speech read for him by his deputy Gerry Chanda during a World Refugee Day fundraising dinner.
Mr Mwila said a similar situation affects Zambian children.
â€œI, therefore, urge you all to extend your generosity towards these vulnerable Zambian and refugee children whose academic future hangs in the balance,â€ Mr Mwila said.
He said education is at the root of solutions for refugees as it prepares them to be better and more productive members of society, once back home or while in exile.
He said provision of education is important to the vulnerable refugee children.
â€œThere still exists the problem of unwarranted animosity between refugees as well as locally-integrated former refugees and our citizens due to misconceptions of what protection by our Government entails,â€ Mr Mwila said.
He said these challenges should be tackled through continued dissemination of information to host communities.
United Nations (UN) resident co-ordinator Janet Rogan said the UN appreciates Governmentâ€™s generosity towards refugees and the organisation will continue to support all efforts to help them.
Ms Rogan said education is the core interest for the UN and will endeavour to support efforts to uplift education standards.
â€œGovernment is already doing a lot to improve the education sector but there is still a lot which needs to be done and, as UN, we are committed to help improve access to quality education,â€ she said.
And United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees country representative Laura Lo Castro called on other countries to keep their borders open for refugees like Zambia has done.
NANCY SIAME, Lusaka