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Cablegate: Zambia Preparing for 25,000 Zimbabweans Fleeing South

P 281237Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5843
INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
USMISSION GENEVA
HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS LUSAKA 000564

DEPT FOR PRM/AFR MARY LANGE
DEPT ALSO FOR AF/S

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF SF ZI ZA
SUBJECT: ZAMBIA PREPARING FOR 25,000 ZIMBABWEANS FLEEING SOUTH
AFRICAN VIOLENCE

REF: LUSAKA 492

1. Information Minister Mike Mulongoti confirmed to local press that
the GRZ was making preparations to receive 25,000 Zimbabweans
fleeing the violence in South Africa. Mulongoti was responding to
reports published by Agence France Presse (AFP) on May 26 which
indicated the Red Cross Society was preparing to receive roughly
5,000 families in Zambia. According to press reports, these
families are currently headed to Zambia via Botswana.

2. UNHCR Country Representative James Lynch and ConOff discussed the
AFP reports on May 27. At that time, UNHCR expressed doubt as to
the accuracy of this story and the imminence of such a large number
of refugees. Subsequently, the International Federation of the Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Zambia issued a Note
Verbale indicating that AFP misunderstood the comments made by their
Southern Africa Zone head. According to the IFRC, "no record about
people fleeing from Southern Africa to seek refuge in Zambia in
great numbers has reached our office."

3. COMMENT: Post believes that Mulongoti may have been referring to
GRZ, UNHCR, and IFRC contingency planning activities (Reftel) and
his comments were designed to reassure the public that Zambia was
ready for Zimbabwean refugees should they decide to come. Post will
remain in contact with UNHCR and will update as additional
information becomes available. END COMMENT

MARTINEZ

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