Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 08:56 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Angola

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Angola , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 18 October 2017]
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.

More than 1.3 million Angolans remained uprooted at the end of 2003, including an estimated more than 1 million persons displaced within Angola and some 323,000 refugees and asylum seekers outside the country. Some 170,000 Angolan refugees lived in Zambia, some 124,000 in Congo-Kinshasa, about 12,000 in Namibia, 6,000 in South Africa, up to 4,000 in Congo-Brazzaville, 2,000 in Brazil, 1,000 in Botswana, and more than 4,000 new Angolan asylum applicants in industrialized countries.

Nearly 135,000 previously uprooted Angolans returned home to restart their lives during 2003, while an estimated 20,000 or more Angolans became newly uprooted.

More than 13,000 refugees from Congo-Kinshasa continued to live in Angola.


Twenty-seven years of fighting for political control of Angola and its lucrative natural resources of oil and diamonds between rebels known as the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and government forces ravaged the country. The nearly three decades of violence drove 4.5 million Angolans – or four out of every ten – from their homes, including about 500,000 who fled to neighboring countries. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million Angolans died of war-related causes, including deliberate civilian murders, malnutrition, and preventable diseases.

Angola's civil war came to a dramatic and abrupt end when UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed in battle in February 2002. UNITA and the Angolan government agreed to a cease-fire in April and signed a comprehensive peace agreement in August, bringing Angola's 27 years of warfare to an official end. The war's end triggered the spontaneous and abrupt return home of an estimated 800,000 internally displaced Angolans and some 80,000 Angolan refugees in 2002.

Refugee Repatriation in 2003

Nearly 135,000 Angolan refugees returned home during 2003. Some 220,000 have repatriated since the war's end.

In June, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched the Angolan Organized Voluntary Repatriation Program to assist with refugee return. About 76,000 repatriated with assistance from UNHCR during the year, including some 41,000 from Congo-Kinshasa, some 31,000 from Zambia, and 4,000 from Namibia. The onset of seasonal rains forced UNHCR to suspend the repatriation program in mid-November. An additional estimated 60,000 returned spontaneously without any assistance.

Returnees faced immense reintegration challenges. "Nearly 30 years of brutal civil war reduced most of Angola's homes, schools, hospitals, places of worship, markets, roads, bridges, and commercial and government buildings to rubble," the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) reported after visiting Angola in November.

Landmines, broken bridges, and poor roads closed about 40 percent of Angola's main refugee returnee areas, according to UNHCR. In areas deemed physically safe for refugee return, the lack of basic social services, including potable sources of water, latrines, schools, and health clinics, complicated an already difficult reintegration process.

Return of Internally Displaced Persons

The precise number of internally displaced persons who returned home during 2003 is unknown. According to the government of Angola, nearly 2.5 million internally displaced Angolans returned to their areas of origin during the year. An estimated 70 percent of refugee and previously internally displaced returnees resettled with no assistance in areas of Angola deemed unable to support civilian populations.

New Refugee Outflows

Although major combat ended in Angola in mid-2002, an estimated 20,000 or more Angolans fled the country during 2003, mostly UNITA supporters.

Refugees from Congo-Kinshasa

More than 13,000 refugees from Congo-Kinshasa remained in Angola at year's end. Most have lived in Angola for 10 to 20 years.

More than 7,000 Congolese refugees lived in or near Viana settlement, on the periphery of the capital, Luanda, where they received World Food Programme food rations. UNHCR considered most Viana residents self-sufficient and began to phase out its programs for the population during 2003. UNHCR ended its health care program in the settlement in late 2003, as Viana residents increasingly received medical assistance from nearby government-supported health centers. UNHCR also ended support to the settlement's three primary schools attended by some 700-refugee children. The Angolan Ministry of Education failed to integrate the Viana schools into the national education system as planned. Jesuit Refugee Service resumed responsibility and maintained the schools through the end of the year.

In May, UNHCR closed Kifangondo camp and transferred the 300 mostly Congolese refugees to Sungui settlement in Bengo Province, where the agency implemented a local integration initiative in an effort to encourage self-sufficiency. UNHCR provided the population with basic health care, primary education for school-aged refugee children, agriculture land to cultivate, material to construct houses, and vocational skills training.

UNHCR provided nearly 500 Congolese refugees with similar basic local integration assistance in Kautepwe settlement in Moxico Province, and to more than 800 Congolese refugees in Kamatende settlement – who were displaced during the war in 1997 – in Malange Province.

Up to 6,000 Congolese refugees lived on their own in Luanda and in other provinces throughout the country. As in previous years, police in urban areas continued to subject Congolese refugees to arbitrary arrest, and urban refugee children struggled to find spots in overcrowded local schools.

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