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Angola: repatriation from Namibia resumes

Briefing Notes, 21 May 2004

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 21 May 2004, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Repatriation of Angolan refugees from Namibia resumed yesterday, after a six-month suspension during the rainy season. The first convoy of 200 Angolan refugees left Osire camp, Namibia, on Thursday for Cunene province, in the south-east of Angola. The repatriation was planned during last month's Tripartite Commission's meeting in Luanda between the governments of Angola, Namibia and UNHCR.

UNHCR plans to run convoys from Osire each week. The camp is still holding some 12,000 refugees who fled their country during the 27-year civil war. Convoys will run first to Cunene, then to Kuando Kubango and finally to other provinces of Angola.

The returnees will spend a few days at a reception centre in Cunene, where they will be provided with accommodation, food and medical assistance as well as training sessions on landmine awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention, before heading to their final destinations.

This convoy marks the official resumption of the repatriation operation to Angola for this year, during which UNHCR expects to transport some 90,000 Angolan refugees from Namibia, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Convoys from Zambia and the DRC are expected to resume in June, once the rains are over in these regions and road conditions have improved, through the same return corridors as last year. UNHCR and its partners also plan to provide another 55,000 spontaneous returnees from the three bordering countries with the same assistance, bringing to 145,000 the total number of returnees we are going to help this year.

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