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Repatriation to Guinea-Bissau from Senegal

Briefing Notes, 23 July 1999

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 23 July 1999, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The repatriation of Guinea-Bissau refugees from the camp in Thiès, Senegal, was completed Thursday, 22 July, with a fourth rotation by the UNHCR-chartered Djon Dade between Dakar to Bissau with 153 people on board. The Djon Dade left Dakar harbour at 1500 GMT and is expected in Bissau this afternoon at the same time.

In all, 629 refugees from the civil war that started in 1998 have been repatriated from Senegal. Around 700 were sheltered in Thiès, 70 km east of Dakar, and these facilities have now been handed over to local officials. All the returnees were given food aid by the Government of Senegal as well as a cash grant from UNHCR for onward travel.

An estimated 600 Guinea-Bissau refugees are still living by their own means in Dakar, and 100 of these have also come forward to register for voluntary repatriation. UNHCR plans a last rotation by sea on Monday, 26 July.

UNHCR cares for another 3,000 Guinea-Bissau refugees in Guinea Conakry (1,800), Gambia (720) and Cape Verde (600). Voluntary repatriation operations are planned from the last two countries in the coming weeks.

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Repatriation

UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation of 38 Tanzanian refugees from Zanzibar who had been residing in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, for more than a decade. The group, comprising 12 families, was flown on two special UNHCR-chartered flights from Mogadishu to Zanzibar on July 6, 2012. From there, seven families were accompanied back to their home villages on Pemba Island, while five families opted to remain and restart their lives on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja. The heads of households were young men when they left Zanzibar in January 2001, fleeing riots and violence following the October 2000 elections there. They were among 2,000 refugees who fled from the Tanzanian island of Pemba. The remainder of the Tanzanian refugee community in Mogadishu, about 70 people, will wait and see how the situation unfolds for those who went back before making a final decision on their return.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

The UN refugee agency has resumed a voluntary repatriation programme for Angolan refugees living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Some 43,000 Angolans have said they want to go back home under a project that was suspended four years ago for various reasons. A first group of 252 Angolan civilians left the UNHCR transit centre in the western DRC town of Kimpese on November 4, 2011 They crossed the border a few hours later and were warmly welcomed by officials and locals in Mbanza Congo. In the first two weeks of the repatriation operation, more than 1,000 Angolan refugees returned home from the DRC provinces of Bas-Congo in the west and Katanga in the south. Out of some 113,000 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring countries, 80,000 are hosted by the DRC.

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

Forty Years On, Antonio Goes Home to Angola

Antonio has been waiting 40 years to return to his home village in northern Angola. He fled to Democratic Republic of the Congo when the country was a Portuguese colony, and stayed away through years of civil war and during the peace that followed in 2002. Now, no longer classed as a refugee, he is finally going back.

Seated in a rickety chair in his family's rented apartment in Kinshasa on the eve of his departure, the 66-year-old Angolan was excited. "I feel joy when I think that I will go home. It's better to be a citizen of your own country than a refugee in another country. It's liberation," he said, flanked by his wife, sister and granddaughter.

Photographer Brian Sokol followed the four of them as they began their journey in Kinshasa on August 19, taking a seven-hour train journey to the town of Kimpese in Bas-Congo province and then reaching the border by bus. They were among the first group to go back home with the help of UNHCR under a third and final voluntary repatriation programme since 2002. The family faces many new challenges in Angola, but their joy was far greater than any apprehension. "I will dance when we arrive at the border," said Antonio's sister, Maria. UNHCR is organizing the return of nearly 30,000 former refugees to Angola.

Forty Years On, Antonio Goes Home to Angola