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International (Forat) -A top Zambian government official said the number of Burundians seeking asylum in Zambia has increased, the Times of Zambia reported today.
Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila said the number of asylum seekers has grown to over 570 since the turmoil that erupted this year following President Pierre Nkurunziza's successful bid for a third term in office.
"We now have 570 Burundians in the country and 300 of them have been accommodated at Meheba Refugee Settlement in North-western Province. However none of them has been granted refugee status as they are being thoroughly screened to ascertain that they are genuine refugee seekers," he was quoted as saying by the paper.
The Zambian minister said the Burundians had continued to troop into the country even after President Nkurunziza's inauguration last month but indicated that the inflows were lower than the figures recorded after the confusion that erupted in May.
The government, he said, was currently working with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), to see how best the Burundians could be accommodated as Zambia upheld international treaties which guaranteed the protection of refugees.
However he said there were currently no plans to extradite the Burundians back to their country and that the screening program outside the refugee settlement was still ongoing in Lusaka, the country's capital.
Thousands of Burundians have fled to neighboring countries following the turmoil that erupted when President Nkurunziza decided to go for a third term which many thought was against the country's constitution. The turmoil was also marred by a failed coup attempt by Army-General Godefroid Niyombare who was later apprehended./End/
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