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UN agency boosts return of Angolan refugees from Republic of Congo

UN agency boosts return of Angolan refugees from Republic of Congo

Angolan refugees briefed on situation back home
The United Nations refugee agency flew 65 Angolans home from the Republic of Congo (ROC) today as part of an accelerated effort to repatriate nearly 3,000 people who fled over the past three decades to escape civil war in their homeland.

The flight follows a visit by representatives from the ROC, Angola and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Angolans in the Congolese departments of Kouilou and Pointe Noire, accompanied by former refugees who gave glowing accounts of their own return and reintegration.

At the end of the tripartite mission, UNHCR said that in the next few weeks it would interview refugees at different sites in ROC to determine whether or not they wanted to return home as part of its repatriation programme. Leaders of the three delegations agreed to accelerate the process so that more returns could be organized before the programme closes at the end of the year.

They also pledged to ensure that the necessary logistical and security conditions were in place to ensure the smooth repatriation and reintegration of returnees.

Some refugees told the visitors they were worried about the security situation in Angola, which only emerged in 2002 from 27 years of civil war, during which 500,000 people fled to neighbouring countries, and millions more were internally displaced.

Following the 2002 peace agreement, over 370,000 refugees returned home, including 123,000 brought back by UNHCR. Many of the rest received UNHCR assistance on arrival. Another tripartite mission is expected to meet Angolans in other parts of the country later this month.