Mozambique hosted more than 5,000 refugees at the end of 2001, including some 3,000 from Congo-Kinshasa, about 1,000 from Burundi, and nearly 1,000 from Rwanda. About 3,000 new refugees arrived during the year.

Refugee Influx and Assistance

The number of refugees seeking safety in Mozambique more than doubled during 2001. About 2,000 refugees fled warfare in Congo-Kinshasa for Mozambique, and nearly 1,000 arrived during the year from Rwanda, Burundi, and other countries. They joined 2,000 refugees already living in Mozambique.

"Many of the Rwandan refugees arriving today ... may have been on the move since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, having previously circulated" through other African countries, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported.

Nearly three-quarters of the refugee population lived in or near Maputo, the capital. Government officials opened a new refugee site in northern Mozambique's Nampula Province and transferred large numbers of refugees there from the Maputo area, closing a refugee site near Maputo.

Many refugees received food aid, health care, and partial access to schools. Refugees in Nampula Province also benefited from language training and support for income-generation projects. New arrivals also received cooking utensils, mattresses, and personal sanitary supplies. Budget constraints within UNHCR hampered planned improvements in refugee housing and education programs.

The Mozambican government and media expressed negative attitudes toward refugees during the year, with the government's main refugee agency accusing refugees and other foreigners near Maputo of car thefts, drug trafficking, and currency counterfeiting. Some refugees were imprisoned because they lacked legal documentation, UNHCR reported.

Although a government process existed for judging individual asylum claims, no refugee status determinations occurred during 2001 or the previous year. The government said it would grant refugee documentation only to refugees who transferred to Nampula Province. Mozambican authorities have expressed "serious reservations" about refugees' property rights, employment rights, and freedom of movement, according to UNHCR.


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