Zambia xenophobic attacks: Rwandans who lost everything flown back home

THIRTEEN Rwandans living in Zambia will be flown back home today after losing property and lifetime savings during xenophobic attacks last week in Zambian capital Lusaka.
Some Zambians attacked foreigners including Rwandans after rumours of ritual killings. (Courtesy)
Some Zambians attacked foreigners including Rwandans after rumours of ritual killings. (Courtesy)

THIRTEEN Rwandans living in Zambia will be flown back home today after losing property and lifetime savings during xenophobic attacks last week in Zambian capital Lusaka.

The situation has calmed down with some security deployments in densely populated suburbs that were targeted by xenophobic rioting last week, Abel Buhungu, the Charge d’Affaires at the High Commission of Rwanda in Zambia, told The New Times.

 

He added: “Meanwhile the High Commission has, in liaison with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rwanda, finalized repatriation arrangements for thirteen Rwandans among those that had sought refuge at the High Commission.

 

“These are among those that lost property and lifetime savings during the riots and were thus left with nothing in Zambia to fall back on.”

 

The 13 are scheduled to leave Lusaka aboard Rwandair on, Sunday at 1600hrs, he said.

On Thursday evening, Buhungu released a statement clarifying that the attacks and looting were sparked by rumours that a Rwandan national was among the suspected individuals that had had a hand in the reported ritual killings.

As of Thursday night, the Rwanda High Commission premises were home to 50 Rwandans who sought refuge there.

The Rwandan High Commission spoke to the Authorities in Lusaka, including the Police and the Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was informed that there is no truth to the rumour.

Ever since the attacks and looting started on Monday, more than 60 shops had been looted and as a result, a number of Rwandan nationals sought refuge at Police Stations, as well as at the Rwandan High Commission.

Buhungu added: “This morning, they have all left except the thirteen that are due for repatriation tomorrow. Many others whose property was looted and thus displaced are at a temporary camp as well as at a Catholic church here in Lusaka.”

When the attacks heightened, the Rwanda High Commission intervened. It advised Rwandans in Lusaka that once threatened they should go to the nearest Police Station but remain alert and avoid unnecessary movements particularly in densely populated areas; strictly abide by the national laws of the host country; and also hosted the Rwandans fleeing from attacks.

Buhungu earlier told Sunday Times that the Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made clear statements condemning the looting and clearly indicated that whatever was being done by the mob was not in any way related to the alleged unfortunate ritual killings.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu is also reported to have issued special orders, and the military was also deployed to support the Police in efforts to reign in the chaos. President Lungu was Thursday quoted saying: “It’s a shame that this has happened in Zambia. The country is known for its peace and it was done to refugees. I will not allow this to happen again and I will make sure that police bring every culprit to book.”

Media reports indicate that the Zambian police have arrested 262 people for allegedly attacking Rwandan nationals and looting their shops. 

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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