Angolans head homewards by train from Democratic Republic of Congo

News Stories, 19 August 2014

© UNHCR/B.Sokol
These Angolans wait to board a train at Kinshasa that will take them on the first leg of their journey back home under a UNHCR voluntary repatriation programme.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, August 19 (UNHCR) A group of 500 Angolans headed homewards by train on Tuesday as the UN refugee agency launched a repatriation programme to end one of Africa's most protracted refugee situations.

The refugees took the train to Kimpese, 220 kilometres west of Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of the Congo's Bas-Congo province, and will spend Tuesday night in a transit centre there before being taken by bus Wednesday on the 80-km trip to northern Angola. They will registered and helped home.

Tuesday's returnees are among some 30,000 Angolans who wish to return on this operation, the third and final repatriation programme run by UNHCR since the end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002.

Twice-weekly return convoys will be organized from Kinshasa, Bas-Congo and Katanga provinces in the coming months. A further 18,000 former Angolan refugees wish to remain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and are in the process of local integration.

Before departure, the returnees go through medical screening, vaccinations and receive safe conduct papers, which serve as an identity document until they have their Angolan ID. Angola has assured that the authorities will help them with their reintegration once they are back in the country.

© UNHCR/B.Sokol
A UNHCR flag draped across the engine of the train that launched the repatriation programme.

Since the end of June 2012, when the cessation clause was invoked, the Angolans in host countries have not been regarded as refugees because the situation in their country is no longer regarded as threatening to their safety or well-being. More than 78,000 Angolan refugees were still living in the DRC when cessation of refugee status was declared by the DRC authorities.

During a tripartite meeting in Angola last July, the Angolan and DRC authorities as well as UNHCR agreed to launch a final voluntary repatriation operation.

Angola's 1961-1975 war of independence and the civil war that followed, claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced some 4 million people, including 550,000 who became refugees. Most fled to neighbouring countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Although most former Angolan refugees in the region have gone back home since 2002, some 73,000 Angolans remain in exile in countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo (48,000), Zambia (23,000), Namibia (1,600) and the Republic of Congo (400). The DRC, Namibia and Zambia have offered opportunities for local integration, while South Africa has issued the Angolans with special immigration permits to allow them to stay.





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

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

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