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The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Mozambique has risen from 26,000 in 2015 to 40,300 at the end of May.
According to Antono Inacio Junior, the director of the National Refugee Support Institute (INAR), only 26,228 of these are registered in the INAR data base. Of these, 4,732 have recognised refugee status, while 21,496 are asylum seekers.
Speaking in Maputo, at a joint press conference with the local branch of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Inacio Junior said most of the refugees come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia.
He said that currently 13,554 refugees and asylum seekers are registered in the Maratane centre, in the northern province of Nampula, of which 9.711 are “active” – that is, it is confirmed that they really are living in Maratane.
Without giving any specific figures, Junior said that the cost of maintaining the refugees is very high, since most of them are dependents and have no skills.
Caring for the refugees “has costs for the State and for international organisations”. These include the UN World Food Programme (WFP) which distributes a food ration every month to the refugees in Maratane.
Junior said that the Mozambican state and the international community are making efforts to endow the refugees with skills that would enable them to generate their own income. He stressed that the Maratane centre covers an area of over 2,000 hectares, some of which could be used for productive activities, notably agriculture.
For his part, UNHCR representative Hans Lunshof said that refugees should not live eternally in dependence on others, and so it was important to find more sustainable solutions.
The UNHCR, he added, supports the government in providing the refugees with identity documents, which is particularly important for allowing refugee children the opportunity to study.
Currently, 2,357 children of asylum seekers at Maratane are enrolled in primary school and 397 in secondary education.
The press conference was held to mark World Refugee Day, which is commemorated every year on 20 June.Source: AIM
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