Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

UN refugee agency restarts repatriation of Angolans from DR Congo

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 4 November 2011
Cite as UN News Service, UN refugee agency restarts repatriation of Angolans from DR Congo, 4 November 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4eb923902.html [accessed 19 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
The United Nations refugee agency today resumed the repatriation of Angolan refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after a four-year hiatus, aiming to help more than 40,000 people go home.

The first group of 252 people were transported to Angola from the DRC town of Kimpese, some 220 kilometres west of the capital, Kinshasa, Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva.

Large-scale voluntary repatriation of Angolans from DRC was stopped in 2007 due to logistical and other difficulties. At that point an estimated 57,000 Angolans had been assisted in returning since 2003.

There are an estimated 80,000 Angolan refugees in DRC who have lived in exile for decades. The new voluntary repatriation initiative follows a UNHCR survey last year that found that 43,000 people were interested in going home. It also follows a new tripartite agreement between Angola, DRC and UNHCR on repatriation signed in June.

Some of the refugees told UNHCR staff that they wanted to go home because of the improved prospects for peace, while others said their families wanted them back. Some felt that they would be better off at home, while others said they are just homesick.

One of those going home today was a 91-year-old woman who was looking forward to being reunited with her children who have gone back.

Those returning went through medical screening and vaccinations and were given voluntary repatriation forms, which will serve as their identity documents until they get Angolan identification cards. UNHCR plans to have two return convoys per week, said Mr. Mahecic.

Angola has assured the returnees that the authorities will help them with housing, micro-credit, vocational training and other forms of assistance. UNHCR will also monitor their well-being for up to 18 months.

A few weeks ago, 1,700 Angolan refugees returned home from Zambia, and repatriation from the Republic of Congo is expected to start soon. There are an estimated 113,000 Angolan refugees in DRC, Republic of Congo, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.

Last month UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly appealed for $21 million to help Angolan refugees return home. Only $8 million of the requested amount has been received so far.

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