Govt concerned over Tongogara Refugee Camp problems

Government is concerned with the challenges facing Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, particularly the ballooning enrolment at the primary school.

By Moses Mugugunyeki at Tongogara Refugee Camp, Chipinge

Speaking at the belated commemorations of World Red Cross Day at Tongogara Refugee Camp yesterday, Public Works, Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza said the enrolment at the schools within the camp was a cause for concern.

World Red Cross Day is celebrated every year on May 8.

“I hear there are 2 000 pupils at the primary school with children aged seven to 15 years old,” Nzenza said.

“The (teacher to student) ratio is pegged at 1:60, which is not good. How can one teach 60 pupils. I will talk to my colleague in the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to see how best we can assist.”

She said government was committed to address the challenges faced by Tongogara Refugee Camp, which is home to 13 000 migrants.

“As the ministry responsible, we are committed and will listen to the challenges facing the camp. We are in a new dispensation, we do business differently, we do it for people and we do it for refugees,” Nzenza said.

The minister said government welcomed and accommodated people from other countries.

“I am touched by the diversity of refugees who are here today. Zimbabwe welcomes you. Zimbabwe is a peaceful country,” she said.

“I have heard sad stories of how you walked all the way from your respective countries. Government will promote human rights and the dignity of people in this camp and protect the most vulnerable people like women, children and the disabled, among others.”

Nzenza said it was the duty of her ministry to see that human rights are protected.
She applauded the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) for augmenting government efforts, especially during the recent Cyclone Idai.

ZRCS national president Edison Mlambo said his organisation was providing a unique service in the camp to reconnect families.

“Here at Tongogara Refugee Camp, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross, is providing free restoration of family links and internet connectivity services to beneficiaries from Africa and all over the world who may have left their mother countries because of various reasons,” he said.

Mlambo said ZRCS boasts of over 22 000 volunteers and staff across the country.

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