A batch of relief items was handed over to Zimbabwe’s Tongogara Camp in Chipinge, Manicaland Province, on Tuesday, as part of a 2 million US dollar denotation from China.
The funding was used to buy foodstuff for new arrivals and being given to the refugees in the form of cash.
The World Food Program (WFP), in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other aid organizations, is managing the distribution of the food items and cash transfers.
The WFP now gives 13 dollars per month per person to more than 12,000 refugees in the camp.
According to the UNHCR, Zimbabwe received 1,382 asylum seekers at the Tongogara Refugee Camp in the first 10 months of this year.
The camp’s refugee population has been rising rapidly, from 5,000 in 2015 to the current 20,410, due to escalating conflicts in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Receiving the donation, camp administrator Johann Mhlanga thanked the Chinese government for the assistance.
He said the Chinese assistance will help to empower and transform the lives of the refugees.
“Through funding from the People’s Republic of China and contributions from other donors, the cash-based intervention has greatly transformed the lives of refugees and the host communities,” Mhlanga said.
He said the cash given to the refugees had created downstream benefits with some recipients starting micro enterprises.
Economic and commercial counsellor of Chinese Embassy Chen Ning reiterated China’s commitment to continued assistance to the refugee camp to improve the lives of the inhabitants.
“We are fully aware that long-term stability, security, development and invigoration for Africa is not only the longing of the African people; it is also the responsibility of the international community.
China stands ready to work with international partners including WFP, UNHCR to support African states including Zimbabwe in economic development and social security.
“The Chinese government has worked with UNHCR and WFP on the relief program of Tongogara Refugee Camp in the form of donating both in-kind and in-cash items,” Chen said.
He thanked Zimbabwe’s central and local governments supporting and facilitating the implementation of the program.
“Together we have made the camp a second home for the refugees,” Chen said, adding that China is ready to bring Chinese medical experts and agricultural experts in Harare to the camp to offer services to the refugees.
WFP deputy country director Niels Balzer paid tribute to China for the generous donation.
“I know we would all agree that there is no place like home, but this is why we are so grateful for the Chinese contribution, which goes a long way toward providing stability and security in Tongogara Refugee Camp,” Balzer said.
UNHCR head of field office David Banda said the donation came at a time when funding to the refugee program in Zimbabwe is dwindling.
“UNHCR is grateful to China for the financial assistance they have provided to the refugees program in Zimbabwe,” Banda said. “The 2 million dollars financial support came at a time UNHCR, its partners and the government of Zimbabwe were struggling to address basic essential needs of refugees due to limited financial and material resources.”
He said the number of refugees at the camp continues to increase, with an average 150 asylum seekers arriving every month.
Apart from food, the camp is also struggling to provide accommodation and education to the growing refugee population.