UN agency launches operation to repatriate Angolan refugees from Zambia
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today launched a voluntary operation to repatriate Angolan refugees from Zambia – host to nearly half the total number of Angolan refugees in the region.
Convoys from Zambia – home to some 200,000 Angolan refugees – will take returnees to parts of their homeland that meet certain pre-conditions, including a relatively low level of landmines and availability of basic services such as schools, health clinics and potable water.
Many areas of Angola do not yet have good relocation conditions in place and UNHCR is working with the country’s Government and other partners to open up more areas for return in the coming months.
“With the start of repatriation from Zambia, we now have in place four return routes to Angola,” UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski said in Geneva. “There are two return routes from the Democratic Republic of Congo – from the Bas Congo southwards into Mbanza Congo in northern Angola and from Katanga Province to Luau in north–eastern Angola. We opened up a third route from Namibia into the southern Angola province of Cuando Cubango.”
Returnees will spend their first few days home at a reception centre where they will receive mine awareness training, HIV/AIDS information and medical assistance, where needed, UNHCR said. They will also receive a re-integration package with food rations, a construction kit to assist in building their homes, and basic household supplies.
The government of Angola estimates that some 130,000 Angolans have returned home on their own since last year.