Lifeline for refugees at Tongogara Refugee Camp

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Minister Nzenza presenting an Outstanding Commitment to Humanitarian Service Award to Alick Macheso in Chipinge last week

TAWANDA MARWIZI

Efforts to reconnect refugees housed at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge with their families have been applauded as most of them are now in touch with  relatives and friends in their respective countries.

The efforts were part of  a programme spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which seeks to restore family links.

The camp has at least 13 000 refugees.

Under the programme, the refugees now have internet connectivity, which allows them to search for loved ones. They also have access to phones for calls and Red Cross message services between Red Cross Societies across the globe for searches.

Speaking at the World Red Cross Day celebrations at the refugee camp last week, ZRCS secretary general Maxwell Phiri said the programme had worked and most of the refugees are reconnecting with their families.

“The programme is working as most of them are reconnecting with their families. In most cases circumstances have forced them to come and stay here but we are grateful that the programme is working well and most of the familes are co-operating well,” said Phiri.

Speaking at the same event Public Works, Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza said the government was concerned about the refugees welfare and will look into the problems they are facing.

“I hear there are 2 000 pupils at the primary school with children aged seven to 15 years old, the (teacher to student) ratio is pegged at 1:60, which is not good. How can one teach 60 pupils. I will talk to my colleague in the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to see how best we can assist. As the ministry responsible, we are committed and will listen to the challenges facing the camp. We are in a new dispensation, we do business differently, we do it for people and we do it for refugees,” Nzenza said.

The minister said government welcomed and accommodated people from other countries.

“I have heard sad stories of how you walked all the way from your respective countries. Government will promote human rights and the dignity of people in this camp and protect the most vulnerable people like women, children and the disabled, among others,” she added.