n Journal of African Foreign Affairs - Refugees and national security in Zimbabwe : emerging issues arising from receiving Africa’s Great Lakes Region (GLR) refugees in Zimbabwe

Volume 6 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2056-564X
  • E-ISSN: 2056-5658



The refugee discourse since the 1920s has focused more on humanitarian and the human rights based approach where refugees are viewed just like any other human being with inherent human rights from birth. The approaches being practised and implemented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have largely been humanitarian, but very little attention has been paid to how some refugees end up connected to Non-Traditional Threats (NTTs) such as, but not limited to terrorism and radicalisation, money laundering, human trafficking, gun running, illicit drug trafficking, local community conflict and xenophobia as well as smuggling precious minerals and poaching wildlife. It is the thesis of this article that if refugee administration focus does not shift from humanitarian to national security protection, then refugees can be used to even move biological weapons and small arms which are very instrumental in contemporary violence witnessed in South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Libya and Mali, among other countries. Zimbabwe is not spared from the associated NTTs that have developed over time and gained significant ground in terms of their modus operandi. It is very difficult for security services and other refugee stakeholders to conduct thorough and conclusive screening methods at points of entry and in the refugee camps owing to several challenges overwhelming the modern state on the one hand and exacerbated by weaknesses presented by the International and Domestic Refugee Laws. In trying to understand and appreciate security threats emanating from receiving refugees in Zimbabwe, this article relied on an exploratory and phenomenological approach that uses the Interpretivism philosophy.

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