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Zambia: Encouraging signs for Angola repatriation

Briefing notes

Zambia: Encouraging signs for Angola repatriation

3 June 2003

More than 2,000 Angolan refugees have registered under UNHCR's phased voluntary repatriation programme for more than 440,000 Angolan refugees we hope to start in two weeks. A dry-run for the repatriation exercise will be conducted on June 12. The pilot convoy will set out from Meheba camp in Zambia's Solwezi district, bringing around 400 returnees to Cazombo commune in western province of Moxico.

Our staff in the field say there has been an enthusiastic response to our programme in Zambia of helping refugees return gradually to areas identified as having the essential facilities and environments that would make returns durable.

Cazombo is one of two communes with the basic water and sanitation facilities, schools and clinics returnees need to begin a new life. The other is M'banza Congo in northern Zaire province, where we also hope to help Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) return.

Registration has also started in camps in Bas-Congo and Katanga provinces in the DRC for the first repatriation convoys that are expected to set out for Angola later this month. Details on registration results are not immediately available from the DRC camps.

In Meheba camp in Zambia, at least 2,228 Angolans have registered for repatriation to Cazombo. The registration started on 27 May and will last for several weeks under the repatriation programme to be carried out over two years.

Zambia hosts an estimated 90,000 Angolans in the camps and settlements and another 98,000 are settled elsewhere, mainly in urban centres. They are among 440,000 Angolan refugees in Angola's neighbouring countries. UNHCR has noted a significant number of spontaneous returns since a cease-fire in Angola went into effect last year, ending 30 years of civil conflict. UNHCR has signed tripartite agreements with Angola, Zambia and the DRC for the voluntary return of the Angolan refugees.