Deputy High Commissioner completes review of Angola operations
LUANDA, Angola, April 27 (UNHCR) - Deputy High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin has completed her first field trip to Angola after reviewing the refugee agency's rehabilitation and reintegration work in the war-torn country.
During her three days in Angola last week, Chamberlin met Angolan refugees who had returned on their own from Zambia to Lumbala N'Guimbo in eastern Angola. She visited the UNHCR returnee reception centre and the women's empowerment centre that offers sewing and literacy training as well as agricultural and honey-producing projects to returnee women.
The Deputy High Commissioner also witnessed the rehabilitation of three of the four bridges that link Lumbala N'Guimbo to Zambia, a joint effort between UNHCR and the Angolan armed forces. When completed, these bridges will enable the agency to repatriate Angolan refugees from Zambia by road.
Some 77,000 Angolan refugees returned home last year, more than half of them under UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme. Most of them came back from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia and Namibia.
This year, the agency plans to help the majority of an expected 145,000 refugees who will repatriate and reintegrate in Angola. However, much remains to be done to clear landmines and rebuild infrastructure in many parts of the country devastated by 27 years of civil war.
At a press conference in Luanda on Saturday, the Deputy High Commissioner commended the good cooperation between the government and non-governmental organisations in Lumbala N'Guimbo as a model of how much can be invested in the repatriation of Angolan refugees. She appealed to the government to continue contributing to the rehabilitation effort, and to donors to support the return and reintegration programme.
Before leaving Angola for Geneva on Saturday, Chamberlin visited refugees in Luanda's Viana camp, most of them from the DRC, where she started her mission to the region. She also appealed to Angola's Minister of Assistance and Social Integration, João Baptista Kussumua, for the humane treatment of Congolese diamond miners recently expelled from the country.