U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2007 - Angola
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||11 July 2007|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2007 - Angola, 11 July 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46963879c.html [accessed 30 July 2016]|
Angola returned six Congolese refugees to the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) and deported three Sierra Leoneans to Senegal. During 2006, Angola reportedly expelled hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants without meaningful screening for refugees or asylum seekers. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had no access to most deportees and, as it had no presence at border posts, could not determine if the Government turned back potential asylum seekers. Once aware of detained refugees and asylum seekers, UNHCR intervened to obtain their release, in one case, securing the return of a refugee deported to a third country.
Many of the deportees were from Congo-Kinshasa, and most had been working illegally as diamond miners. Many of the long-term Congolese refugees in Angola lived in the mining areas, along with refugees and asylum seekers from other nations, and many mined illegally. Mine security guards reportedly beat one 40-year-old Congolese miner to death in February, beat four Congolese miners in two April incidents, and kidnapped and robbed other Congolese miners.
UNHCR registered almost 1,100 asylum seekers during the year, with 2,500 from previous years still waiting for refugee status determinations (RSDs) from the Comité de Reconhecimento do Direito de Asilo (COREDA). About 1,000 asylum seekers had significant delays in their RSDs, some for more than three years. Delays were particularly bad in the remote provinces.
Angola was party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention), its 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (African Refugee Convention). It maintained, however, reservations to the Protocol's dispute resolution provision and the 1951 Convention's rights to work, freedom of movement, and residence. Angola's 1990 Law on Refugee Status provided for asylum based on the 1951 and African Refugee Conventions.
Angola hosted about 2,100 individually recognized refugees and asylum seekers; along with roughly 13,500 refugees from Congo-Kinshasa it had granted prima facie status in the 1970s. The number of Congolese refugees was likely higher, as there had never been any formal registration and births and deaths often went unrecorded.
Detention/Access to Courts
During the year, Angolan authorities arrested refugees and asylum seekers on charges including illegal entry or stay in the country, illegal employment, and moving about without proper documentation. The Legal Assistance and Reintegration Centre (LARC), UNHCR's implementing partner, learned of 158 such arrests in Luanda; in every case, UNHCR was able to secure their release. While the authorities sometimes informed UNHCR of the arrest of refugees and asylum seekers, UNHCR generally learned about these incidents from its field offices, LARC staff, or the detainees' friends and relatives.
UNHCR, the LARC, and local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were able to monitor detention facilities, but the only active LARC office was in Luanda.
The COREDA-issued card for refugees and asylum seekers was unlike any other government-issued card. Police frequently detained refugees and asylum seekers along with illegal immigrants despite the protection the Law on Refugee Status provided refugees from arrest for unlawful entry or presence.
Refugees had no access to the courts.
Freedom of Movement and Residence
Lack of adequate documentation made it difficult for refugees to travel freely within Angola. Police frequently harassed and extorted money from travelers and the Government restricted access to diamond-rich areas.
Angola's 1994 Regulation on the Legal Regime of Foreigners granted foreigners freedom of movement and residence, subject to security restrictions imposed by the Ministry of the Interior. Refugees required permits to travel in security-restricted areas, unless traveling between home and work.
The Law on Refugee Status entitled refugees to international travel documents, valid for two years and renewable in Angola or at Angolan consulate. UNHCR provided blank travel documents to Angolan asylum authorities, who processed and issued them to 105 refugees during 2006.
Right to Earn a Livelihood
While the Law on Refugee Status said refugees "shall be entitled to engage in gainful activities," very few refugees were able to do so in the formal sector. Typically, UNHCR had to intervene to assist refugees in gaining access to formal employment, as there was a high unemployment rate among nationals and many employers, as well as immigration officials, did not recognize the COREDA-issued cards as valid for employment.
Many long-term Congolese refugees were unable to work formally because they lacked documentation.
Refugees did not enjoy the protection of Angolan labor legislation. Refugees could not legally form businesses and, because banks did not accept the refugee cards, could not open bank accounts.
Public Relief and Education
The Government committed to no more than administrative support for refugee protection, but UNHCR and its partners were able to help refugees gain access to public services in and around the capital, Luanda. A few hundred of the neediest refugees in Luanda received food aid from UNHCR. Outside the capital and adjoining provinces, UNHCR did not have the means to provide assistance.
In 2005, UNHCR turned over to Angola the operation of the Viana refugee camp schools, near Luanda. Angolan and Congolese refugee children attended them side-by-side. In 2006, Viana's schools offered education through grade four, as did those in the Sungui settlement in Bengo Province. Many refugee children did not continue past grade four because the national schools charged high fees and discriminated against them for their lack of documentation.
Angola did not include refugees in its development planning, but the international NGO Development Workshop ran a micro enterprise program for refugees.