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High Commissioner's trip to Africa

Briefing notes

High Commissioner's trip to Africa

15 August 2003

High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers next week embarks on a ten-day mission to Southern and Central Africa. The trip will allow him review the current state of various peace processes and assess prospects for repatriation. He will also take stock of current repatriation movements and reintegration efforts.

In Angola, the High Commissioner will meet high-ranking government officials and visit two field locations in the Moxico province, in the east of the country, where UNHCR has set up reception centres for Angolan refugees returning to their communities from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The region is also hosting a number of spontaneous returnees, who started flocking into the country following the peace accord of April last year.

Mr. Lubbers will then cross over to the Kisenge region of DRC, where he will meet refugees who are getting ready for repatriation to their homeland. UNHCR estimates that up to 75,000 Angolan refugees could be repatriated this year, out of a total of about 400,000 still in the region.

In Tanzania's capital, Dar es Salaam, the High Commissioner will attend the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Heads-of-State summit. He will also visit refugee camps for Burundian and Congolese refugees in Kigoma, western Tanzania. In DRC, Burundi and Tanzania, he will meet officials to discuss progress in the peace processes in the region, particularly for DRC and Burundi, and prospects for repatriation. The long-standing conflict in Congo has caused immense suffering, driving 350,000 people into exile, scattered across the region. UNHCR started repatriation to some communes in the north of Burundi last year, but over half a million Burundians remain in exile to date, mostly in Tanzania. Some 98,000 Burundian refugees have already gone home since last year, including 48,000 with the help of UNHCR.

Tanzania has had the largest refugee population in Africa for decades, presently hosting over one million refugees, mainly from Burundi and DRC - of whom 513,000 are in camps. The country has also played a significant in the Burundi peace process.