Operation: Opération: Zambia



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
44,076 people of concern received unrestricted cash assistance for basic needs and for COVID-19 recovery support
5,086 refugees, former refugees and host communities (46% of whom are women) received livelihoods support
342 refugees were resettled to third countries (50% women)
120 residency permits were issued to former Angolan refugees
100% of refugees in settlements received double rations of soap due to COVID-19 pandemic prevention measures
100% of schools and clinics in refugee settlements were supported with additional sanitation and hygiene services
94% of known survivors of gender-based violence received appropriate support
86% of refugees were enrolled in primary schools (51% girls)
2021 planning figures
100% of people of concern will have access to primary health care, including HIV/AIDS treatment
90% of skilled refugees will have access to entrepreneurship and business training
80% of primary school-aged children of concern to UNHCR will be enrolled in primary education

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 94,571
2019 85,871
2018 76,027


[["Refugees",66075],["Asylum-seekers",4293],["Others of concern",24203]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[17.61131682,13.609909759999999,32.279067153999996,21.998310399999998,24.62148988,22.52019232],"expenditure":[10.45134148,11.873960960000002,14.7293135,13.93935003,13.61180298,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[17.61131682,13.609909759999999,32.279067153999996,21.998310399999998,24.62148988,22.50019232],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,0.02],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[10.45134148,11.873960960000002,14.7293135,13.93935003,13.61180298,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

The COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in the midst of a challenging economic situation in Zambia. In response, UNHCR, the Government and other partners developed a contingency plan for COVID-19 to maintain operational continuity, while also addressing the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of refugees and host communities. The unpredictable humanitarian and security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi required UNHCR to scale up its emergency preparedness and response for new arrivals. Food security and nutrition remained precarious, with WFP food assistance representing the main source of food and nutrition for refugees in Mantapala settlement, while UNHCR provided cash assistance to the most vulnerable in Meheba and Mayukwayukwa settlements. Zambia continued to host protracted former refugees from Angola and Rwanda, whose social and legal integration is yet to be completed.

Population trends

By the end of 2020, the total population of concern stood at 94,571, representing a 10% increase compared to December 2019. In parallel, Zambia continued to receive mixed movements of asylum-seekers from several countries.

The majority of refugees (66,075) mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and asylum-seekers (4,293) live in three designated settlements namely, Meheba (20,954), Mayukwayukwa (11,914) and Mantapala (16,149), with others dispersed in Lusaka district (15,757) and other areas in Zambia (5,600).

Former Angolan refugees (19,030) and former Rwandan refugees (1,723) reside mainly in Meheba settlement (9,804), Mayukwayukwa (6,739) Lusaka district (856) and other areas in Zambia (6,804).
The Government also estimates that some 12,404 self-settled refugees reside across the country.

Key achievements

  • 1,064 refugee farmers received Government subsidized seeds and fertilizers in line with Zambia’s Global Refugee Forum pledges.
  • 604 people of concern to UNHCR received digital cash grants as part of COVID-19-related livelihood recovery measures, while refugee tailors produced 85,000 cloth face masks that were distributed to refugees and their hosts.
  • 22 dialogues with communities took place to discuss prevention and response to gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse and COVID-19 prevention.  
  • The water, sanitation and hygiene situation improved through a German Development Bank, UNICEF and Government project benefiting refugees and host communities, who now enjoy 32 litres of water per person per day. UNHCR coordinated and monitored the project.
  • In Mantapala refugee settlement, Grade 9 examination centre status was granted to schools and the Government approved the first secondary school in the settlement. Refugees can now take official examination within the settlement, whereas previously they had to travel to an examination centre. This will improve access to secondary education and increase the number of refugees transitioning from primary to secondary education.
  • 100% of people of concern to UNHCR had access to primary health care.

Unmet needs

  • Support towards livelihoods opportunities and skills development was limited, and COVID-19 further eroded the livelihoods of some 70% of people of concern to UNHCR.
  • Reception facilities across the country did not meet minimum humanitarian standards to address the needs of people of concern to UNHCR.
  • Access to essential medicine, including medicine used to treat mental health conditions, as well as health facilities and mental health services were limited.
  • Most refugees including those at heightened risk continued to reside in dilapidated or inadequate shelters.
  • UNHCR was unable to meet resettlement needs, with insufficient resettlement staff, especially in the context of COVID-19 which required investing in technology to conduct remote interviews.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

  • All people of concern to UNHCR had access to primary health care as existing clinics and health posts were able to offer basic health services in refugee settlements. This was made possible thanks to flexible funding.

Working environment

Zambia is hosting over 76,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. It is expected that the working environment in Zambia will remain stable in spite of the national elections scheduled for 2021.
The Office of the Commissioner for Refugees coordinates the services provided to refugees by other line ministries with UNHCR’s support. The Government will continue assuming responsibility for the reception, registration, refugee status determination and documentation of people of concern. Although refugees are mainly staying in the settlements in line with the encampment policy, some refugees have already been provided with agricultural land in order to improve their livelihoods. Furthermore, both refugees and asylum-seekers have access to existing social services provided by the Government.
Zambia was the first country in Southern Africa to roll-out the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in 2018. It is expected that the national roadmap will be endorsed in 2019 following adoption of location-specific action plans focusing on refugee education and self-reliance in 2020. UNHCR will also continue supporting the Government in the ongoing response to the Congolese refugee situation and its transition into a more development-focused response in line with Global Compact on Refugees.
UNHCR will continue to advocate for the local integration of former Angolan and Rwandan refugees and to act as a catalyst for their socio-economic inclusion.
A Refugee Policy and Administrative Instructions supplementing the 2017 Refugee Act and a National Action Plan on the eradication of Statelessness are expected to be adopted in the beginning of 2020.
In Zambia, UNHCR coordinates closely with a variety of actors including national and local authorities, the UN system, civil society, NGO partners, diplomatic community and the private sector.

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Advocacy and technical support to ease the encampment policy and restrictions on the right to work as fundamental pre-requisites for the enjoyment of other rights;
  • Prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence, which remains the main protection risk throughout the country;
  • UNHCR will support self-reliance of refugees as well as youth and women empowerment to reduce the risk of exploitation and abuse and enable socio-economic inclusion of people of concern;
  • Ensuring that all school-age children are enrolled in schools. The access of girls to higher education and the reduction of drop-out at lower levels will be prioritized;
  • Promotion of cash-based interventions as a way of increasing self-reliance for new arrivals and persons with specific needs. 
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
  • Qatar

    private donors

  • 12-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Ireland
  • Italy

    private donors

  • 09-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 08-OCT-2021
  • Japan

    private donors

  • 06-OCT-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 05-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 04-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 01-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2021

    private donors

  • Switzerland

    private donors

  • Brazil

    private donors

  • Philippines

    private donors