By Felix Matasva, Manicaland Correspondent
SOCIAL welfare Minister, Paul Mavima has said government will avail more land for the expansion of Tongogara Irrigation Scheme in Chipinge South as part of efforts to improve the livelihoods of refugees and host communities.
Speaking Monday during the World Refugees Day commemorations held at Tongogara Refugee Camp, Mavima said the expansion of the irrigation scheme will foster cordial relations between refugees and their host communities in Chipinge.
“The Government is alive to its international obligation to receive and protect refugees and asylum seekers. The need to empower persons of concern in terms of livelihoods need not to be emphasised,” said the minister.
“The government of Zimbabwe will continue to avail arable land for the expansion of the irrigation scheme in Tongogara to benefit refugees and the host community to ensure peaceful co-existence.”
Mavima warned refugees against breaking the country’s laws.
“We are committed to the global treaties that we are a signatory meant to provide peace, security and legal protection to refugees.
“However, we should note that Zimbabwe is a democratic country that has laws and regulations governing its citizenry.
“This means that refugees who dare break the laws will face the full wrath of the law.”
The ministry gave out food hampers with basic needs for an average family to all residents at the refugee camp.
During the celebrations UN agencies, UNHCR and UNDP inaugurated a new solar panels installed at the former’s field offices at Tongogara Refugee Camp.
UNDP resident representative in Zimbabwe, Mia Seppo said: “This small facility with UNHCR shows UNDP’s commitment to greening its operations.
“We recognise that while we partner with government on environmental policy and sustainability projects, we also need to walk the talk.”
This year’s World Refugee Day ran under theme dubbed: “Everyone has the right to asylum. Whoever they are. Wherever they come from. Whenever they need it.”
Zimbabwe hosts at least 22600 refugees and asylum seekers with most of them staying at Tongogara Refugee Camp.
At least 74% of refugees and asylum seekers registered by UNHCR are from the Democratic Republic of Congo while 11% come from Mozambique, 6% from Burundi, 5% from Rwanda and 4% from other nationalities.