Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Africa Fact Sheet - Southern Africa

Africa Fact Sheet - Southern Africa

1 May 2000

In Southern Africa, after the floods which had heavily affected Mozambique and Madagascar, the latest developments in Zimbabwe over a land dispute opposing war veterans and Zimbabwean farmers is of major concern to UNHCR.

Authorities in neighbouring countries are on high alert and are preparing a contingency plan with UNHCR specialists in view of a potential influx of refugees coming from Zimbabwe.

During a special session of the Security Council on Africa in January, UNHCR was called on to become involved in the provision of humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons in Angola, whose number reports put at 2.5 million to 4 million. After consultations with other U.N. agencies - and considering the expressed wish of the Angolan government - the High Commissioner decided that the Office will expand its operations.

A UNHCR assessment team recently sent in April to the northern province of Angola reported the plight of the displaced population was such that there was a serious danger of epidemic outbreaks as well as generalized malnutrition. The UNHCR involvement will focus on IDPs in areas which are also potential zones of return for Angolan refugees in neighbouring countries.

Since October 1999, Angolan refugees have been trekking across borders to seek asylum in the DRC, Namibia and Zambia. The majority of the 26,000 Angolan refugees crossing the border to Zambia arrived on the Zambesi plains in January, at the height of the rainy season. Access to this area during this period was extremely difficult and challenges to UNHCR's efforts to assist the group made the operation "a logistical nightmare." 1,200 refugees trapped by floods in the Kalabo area had to be airlifted to Mongu before being moved on to a camp at Mayukwayukwa. The situation was even more critical for the 10,000 refugees who arrived in Sinjembela. People arrived in very poor physical condition, completely exhausted and malnourished, then they had to endure road conditions that turned a 120-km transfer by truck to Nangweshi into a taxing three-day ordeal. By May, 7,000 of them had been settled in a newly-built site.

Due to heavy fighting along much of the border with Namibia, and the cooperation between the Namibian and the Angolan armies, very few Angolans have fled into Namibia. The 5,000 Angolans who crossed into Namibia were all brought to the Osiri camp, 400 km from the border, which now hosts 10,400 refugees.