Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 08:34 GMT

UN-backed repatriation of Congolese from Zambia passes milestone

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 25 September 2010
Cite as UN News Service, UN-backed repatriation of Congolese from Zambia passes milestone, 25 September 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ca19fc417.html [accessed 17 September 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 is preparing to close two refugee camps in Zambia as the number of Congolese who have successfully returned home in a UN-backed programme over the past three years tops 40,000.

Mwange camp will be shut on Tuesday and Kala camp will be closed next month, with the wider voluntary repatriation programme winding down by the end of this year, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported yesterday.

Any remaining refugees who do not want to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will be moved to the Meheba refugee settlement in Zambia's North-Western province, according to UNHCR.

But the agency said that most Congolese now felt it was safe enough to return to their homeland, and many want to use skills obtained during life in Zambia - including agriculture, fishing and carpentry - to start new livelihoods when they return.

"The willingness of Congolese refugees at Kala and Mwange to repatriate is very high," said Philippe Creppy, the head of UNHCR's office in the Zambian town of Kawambwa.

When the refugees return to the DRC, largely to the Katanga region in the southeast, UNHCR and its aid partners provide skills training, microcredit schemes and income-generation projects. Returnees also receive food, shelter and transport assistance.

The milestone of 40,000 returnees was passed last weekend when a boat chartered by the UN agency carrying 555 people reached Moba in the DRC after crossing Lake Tanganyika.

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