Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
A TOTAL of 172 Democratic Republic of Congo nationals are being held at Maitengwe Border Post in Bulilima District after they surrendered themselves to officials at the border seeking asylum in the country.
Regional immigration officer in charge of western region, Mr Regies Munyaradzi said the DRC nationals, both adults and children arrived in the country from Botswana on Saturday.
He said the group was now waiting to be taken to a holding camp in Waterfalls, Harare for a determination on whether or not they will be granted asylum.
“We received a group of about 172 DRC nationals who comprised both adults and children on Saturday. They are currently housed at Maitengwe Border Post and they are awaiting transportation to Waterfalls in Harare where they will be further referred to Tongogara Refugee Camp,” he said.
“It seems these refugees had been staying at a holding camp in Botswana for some time but they left and proceeded to Zimbabwe. They then handed themselves over to officers at Maitengwe Border Post. We have interviewed all the refugees to ascertain that they are indeed foreigners and what is left is for them to be transported.”
Bulilima District Administrator, Mrs Ethel Moyo who is also the chairperson of the Bulilima Civil Protection Unit Committee said arrangements were still underway for the refugees to be taken to a holding camp in Harare.
She said as the CPU committee, they had created facilities to cater for the large group such as sanitation, water, food and medical services during their stay at Maitengwe Border Post.
“As the CPU committee, we visited Maitengwe Border Post on Sunday where the refugees are being held. We managed to mobilise necessary services for them such as ensuring that they had toilets, water, food and medical services among others. They are now awaiting transportation and if all goes as planned they are supposed to have been moved by end of today,” said Mrs Moyo.
A source who preferred anonymity said the immigrants had indicated that they had fled from their country to seek refugee from political instability and hunger in their country.
He said the refugees comprised children who had lost their parents, while some of the immigrants had their homes and property destroyed while others had their relatives killed in their presence during the ongoing civil unrest in DRC.