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Update on Developments in the Southern African Region

Executive Committee Meetings

Update on Developments in the Southern African Region

30 May 1997

30 May 1997

8th Meeting


1. In November 1996, following endorsement of the Project Delphi Plan of Action by the Standing Committee of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, UNHCR operations in the southern African region were placed under the overall management of a field-based Director. The Director is situated in Pretoria, South Africa, and is responsible for 10 southern African countries, as well as Madagascar and the Comoros. One of the first objectives of the Southern African Operation is to develop regional and country capacities to carry out the new functions that will be delegated to the Field from Headquarters. The delegation of responsibilities and authority under the Delphi process are also intended to ensure uninterrupted, efficient and effective delivery of services to all beneficiaries.

2. In this context, two situations have been defined as follows:

(i) The Angolan Repatriation situation (all Angolan refugees in Congo, Zaire[1] and Zambia);

(ii) The southern African situation (urban refugees, protection, prevention, capacity building and emergency preparedness).

3. Part II of this document provides an overview of developments in the region, Parts III and IV give an update on the above-mentioned situations, and Part V provides information on a country basis. Relevant budget and post tables, as well as selected maps, are included as annexes to this document.


4. In the past several years, the southern African region has progressed from a conflict-ridden refugee producing area to a region of relative peace and stability. The peaceful resolution of the Namibian question resulted in United Nations sponsored elections in 1989 and independence in 1990. The resolution of South Africa's political problems led to the country's first non-racial and democratic elections in April 1994, and the formation of a Government of National Unity. The peaceful democratic changes in Zambia (1991), Malawi (1994), and Mozambique's first multi-party elections of October 1994, added to the growing harmony in the region. More recently, the formation of a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation in Angola marked another great stride in the region's steady advance towards peace and reconciliation.

5. Unless there is a major refugee influx from outside the region, the envisaged return of Angolan refugees in 1997/1998 should be the last of a series of developments which have profoundly changed the refugee situation in the region. It is expected that, by 1998, large refugee populations of rural origin will have been replaced by relatively small caseloads of mostly urban socio-economic background, presenting different needs and expectations in terms of protection, assistance and durable solutions. As a result, UNHCR's regional strategy for 1997 and 1998 has been reoriented to take account of this new situation. The basic tenets of this strategy are:

(i) To obtain a durable solution for some 300,000 Angolan refugees in the region through voluntary repatriation and reintegration;

(ii) To provide durable solutions to urban-based refugees in the region, with particular attention to local integration;

(iii) To promote a culture of peace and tolerance through public education and awareness campaigns on refugee and human rights issues;

(iv) To strengthen and consolidate national commitments and capacities in order to uphold the right of asylum and international protection principles; and

(v) To promote harmonization of conditions and modalities that will provide protection, assistance and durable solutions to refugees and asylum-seekers in the region.

6. Most countries in the southern African region are experiencing a steady increase in arrivals of urban refugees, many of whom have passed through several other countries. This phenomenon clearly calls for a regional approach, requiring careful coordination and harmonization of protection and assistance activities. In addition, Governments are increasingly concerned about the problem of "undocumented migration". This will be one of the critical problems that will have to be addressed by new government policies, since, for many, the distinction between refugees, asylum-seekers and illegal migrants is often unclear. Therefore, UNHCR must play a strong advocacy and education role on this issue.

7. As the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) expanded the scope of its activities beyond the economic realm to include promotion of regional security, human rights, good governance and social development, UNHCR saw an opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of its regional approach by strengthening cooperation and coordination with this important regional body. To this end, UNHCR and SADC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in July 1996, which provides a broad framework for cooperation between the two organizations in various fields related to refugee and migratory movements. This includes the Office's participation in, or support to, prevention related activities aimed at addressing the root causes of refugee movements, as well as emergency preparedness and response mechanisms at the national and regional levels.

8. UNHCR is planning to initiate a region-wide discussion, which will culminate in regional consultations to address the problem of refugees, returnees, displaced persons, and undocumented migration in southern Africa. It is envisaged that this will be a joint SADC, UNHCR, IOM and ILO initiative. Subject to an agreement between UNHCR and the Southern Africa Migration Project (SAMP), non-refugee migratory movements will be dealt with in cooperation with this body, which has been established to provide Governments of the southern African region with research and analysis regarding cross-border population movements, as well as relevant policy recommendations.

9. In terms of the implementation of UNHCR's policy priorities in relation to refugee women and children, and taking into consideration the implementation of Beijing Platform for Action and the recommendations of the Graça Machel Study for refugee children, programme planning has given priority attention to protection issues to address these groups of refugees, as well as to access to food, appropriate health care and education, skills training and income generation activities.


10. The Regional Office for Southern Africa covers all UNHCR activities in Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Madagascar and South Africa, which mainly relate to urban refugee caseloads. UNHCR's presence in these countries, with the exception of South Africa, consists of a Liaison Office with one international staff member and several local support posts. The Regional Office in Pretoria provides the support needed to run these operations. In addition, this Office covers the urban refugee caseloads in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola, and Mozambique. All of these countries have Representatives and sufficient international and national staff to function without the administrative or programme support from the Regional Office. They report directly to the Director of Operations. The main activities in relation to this urban refugee situation are presented in the following paragraphs.

A. Durable solutions

11. As of late 1996, the majority of refugees being assisted by UNHCR under this situation are urban refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly situated in South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, and Zambia. The majority of the recognized refugees come from countries where voluntary repatriation cannot be envisaged in the foreseeable future and local integration is, thus, the principal durable solution. In order to avoid continued care and maintenance programmes, UNHCR is now concentrating on activities that can enable these refugees to become self-reliant. Based on the recommendations of a regional workshop on self-reliance strategies, appropriate income-generating and vocational training activities are being identified and implemented. The UNHCR Branch Offices will also discuss with the relevant Governments the possibilities for local integration for these caseloads. If this option proves difficult, UNHCR will promote voluntary repatriation at an opportune time. The discontinuation of cash handouts to urban refugees in the region, which was one of UNHCR's main regional objectives in 1996, has largely been achieved, with only a small number of needy refugees still receiving assistance. Care and maintenance projects have been replaced by local settlement projects to better reflect this new approach.

12. Promotion of regional information sharing mechanisms, through the establishment of a regional individual case database, which will be used both for identifying durable solutions and for detecting irregular movers, also forms an integral part of activities aimed at facilitating local integration.

B. Capacity building

13. UNHCR is making efforts to strengthen the capacity of Governments to provide protection and assistance to refugees and returnees. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will also be encouraged to assume greater responsibility in terms of participation in the eligibility process and the delivery of material assistance. This will allow UNHCR to focus on its main mandate of monitoring protection and assistance.

14. UNHCR has organized comprehensive training programmes for government officials in the areas of refugee status determination, protection and the promotion of refugee law. More than 1,200 immigration officers, police and defence force personnel have benefited from these programmes. In terms of local capacity building, UNHCR has been instrumental in the establishment of NGO fora and many NGOs have received training in refugee law and protection principles.


15. Through the PARinAC process, UNHCR is seeking to further develop national and regional institutions, mechanisms and procedures to deal with refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR also intends to continue to support the development of local refugee fora and NGOs involved in assisting refugees. Such fora should facilitate training, cooperation and coordination, in order to ensure an effective division of responsibilities and a better understanding among all concerned. This should also enhance the capacity of these groups to assist refugees and asylum-seekers. Public information and training events are intended to promote a greater awareness of the refugee problem, using well established NGO networks.

D. Contingency planning/emergency preparedness

16. UNHCR will work closely at the local and regional level with Governments, United Nations agencies, NGOs and SADC to develop or update emergency preparedness and response mechanisms in order to formulate plans to deal with potential emergencies. Training in emergency management will also be provided to all UNHCR interlocutors.

E. Protection

17. It is envisaged that a regional protection meeting will take place in June 1997 to take stock of relevant developments in the region since the 1994 Harare Regional Protection Meeting. The June meeting will produce a revised plan of action, which will identify actions required to achieve the regional objectives outlined above. In particular, the protection sector will concentrate on the following activities:

(i) Promotion of enactment or improving of national refugee legislation and eligibility procedures in order to establish internationally accepted standards in all countries of the region. This will include the lifting of reservations to economic and social rights of refugees. This action will facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for the local integration of refugees, as well as mitigating the push and pull factors triggering irregular movements; and

(ii) Implementation of the principle of international solidarity and burden sharing in southern Africa through the framework for cooperation offered by SADC. This action should explore possibilities to ensure an equitable and orderly distribution of the refugee burden among countries in the region and, if appropriate, through an institutionalized mechanism.

F. Inspection mission to Southern Africa

18. In May 1996, UNHCR's Inspection and Evaluation Service conducted an inspection mission to southern Africa, visiting five countries under the responsibility of the Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA). The regional role and impact of ROSA was also included in the terms of reference of this mission. In this regard, the mission concluded that, in line with ROSA initiatives, expanded cooperation with SADC should be made a priority. This has since culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with SADC and the initiative to promote regional consultations.

19. The inspection mission coincidentally took place at the start of Project Delphi. Two of the mission's recommendations, to expand the regional structure of ROSA and to consider this region as a pilot testing location within the framework of Project Delphi, have been implemented. The Delphi focus under the new structure should also lead to further regional consistency and harmonization in such areas as irregular movements, asylum procedures, contingency planning and operational issues (education, skills training, and refugee camps), which were identified as priority concerns during the mission.

20. Two of the foremost operational activities in the region, the repatriation of Angolans and protection and assistance for urban refugees, were also reviewed as part of the inspection. On the recommendation that ROSA should be brought more fully into the repatriation planning process, a revised Angolan Repatriation Plan of Action was developed in December 1996 and planning has been facilitated through the new Director of Operations structure. In addition, the mission observed that a region-wide priority should be placed on employment activities leading to local integration. With the support of Headquarters, a regional employment consultation process has commenced, and local consultants have been recruited to study and propose integration strategies.


21. The Angolan repatriation situation covers all activities for the repatriation of Angolan refugees. This includes operational responsibility for the repatriation of Angolans in camps in Zambia, Congo and Zaire.

22. The implementation of the peace process in Angola has proceeded at a slow pace. There have, however, recently been some very positive developments. On 8 April 1997, the Angolan National Assembly voted on the new status of the leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), who was officially named "President of the Largest Opposition Party", thus resolving a long running and contentious issue. On 9 April 1997, the UNITA deputies took up their 60 of the 220 seats at the National Assembly. The Government of Unity and National Reconstruction was subsequently inaugurated. Furthermore, on 14 April 1997, the demobilization of excess ex-UNITA troops from quartering areas officially began.

23. Against this background of positive developments and on the assumption that the peace process will progress even further, the country is expected to take a leap forward on the road to sustainable peace through the implementation of the various elements of the Lusaka Protocol. It is hoped and envisioned by UNHCR that continued progress in the reconciliation process will make it possible for over 300,000 Angolan refugees to return home. Due to the slow progress in the implementation of the peace process, organized voluntary repatriation has not yet been initiated by UNHCR. Significant spontaneous return movements, however, took place during 1996, as some 59,400 Angolan refugees returned home. Spontaneous returns continue at a constant pace from Zaire and Zambia. Over 82,500 spontaneous returnees have been registered and assisted by UNHCR as of March 1997. UNHCR is discussing with relevant Governments the possible launching of an organized voluntary repatriation programme, proposed to begin in June 1997.

24. UNHCR Field Offices, which were opened for the purpose of facilitating repatriation and reintegration programmes, are now closely involved in monitoring events in Zaire and have been finalizing contingency plans for any eventuality, be it the massive sudden return of Angolan nationals or the possible influx of Zairian refugees or other nationals into Angola.

25. During 1996, UNHCR focused its assistance on strengthening basic facilities in returnee areas and on building capacity for the reception of the large number of returnees expected to return in 1997. UNHCR established nine field locations in major provinces of return, most of which are now staffed with international personnel. Basic reception and reintegration activities were concentrated in specific returnee areas in the Cabinda, Lunda Sul, Moxico, Uige and Zaire Provinces.

26. In countries of asylum, particularly in Zambia and Zaire, preparatory activities for repatriation were undertaken. UNHCR's field presence was also strengthened with the deployment of international staff. Preparations for voluntary repatriation included activities such as Portuguese language training and mine awareness programmes. Surveys were also undertaken to determine the intended destinations of returning refugees.

27. A significant scaling down of operational activities was also necessary in 1996, as donors were hesitant to commit funds for the repatriation and reintegration of refugees. During the second half of 1996, it became clear that a significant reduction of operational activities was necessary. UNHCR reduced its programme through savings resulting from the non-implementation of the repatriation. The results of a more accurate needs assessment, however, indicated that UNHCR would require more capacity than had been realized.

28. During 1997, UNHCR's Voluntary Repatriation and Reintegration Programme aims at repatriating over 300,000 Angolan refugees from neighbouring countries. This assumes that progress in the peace process will inspire sufficient confidence among the refugees to encourage them to return. A total of 81,000 refugees (45,000 from Zaire, 30,000 from Zambia, 5,000 from Congo and 1,000 from Namibia) will be assisted with organized transportation to return to their areas of origin. The remainder are expected to repatriate spontaneously. In addition, up to 1,000 Angolan refugees dispersed in countries all over the world, who do not have the necessary means to return, will be assisted with air tickets to return.

29. UNHCR's offices in Angola will continue to facilitate the reintegration of spontaneous returnees through the implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), which aim to restore basic services in major returnee areas. Activities related to the demarcation of mines and their removal, as well as the rehabilitation of major access and selected feeder roads will also be undertaken, with a view to improving access to returnee areas.

30. In close cooperation with the Government and the World Food Programme (WFP), food security will continue to be promoted in returnee areas through the provision of basic food rations until the first harvest, as well as the distribution of agricultural seeds and tool kits.

31. In countries of asylum, preparatory activities for organized voluntary repatriation will be continued and enhanced. The completion of the general legal framework, including a Tripartite Agreement with the Congo, and the reactivation of tripartite meetings with Namibia and Zaire in 1997/1998, will continue to be pursued. Tripartite meetings with Zambia, Angola and UNHCR will also continue.

32. The funding situation for the Angolan repatriation is critical. Only some $ 2.7 million, out of an appeal for $ 38.2 million, have been received to date. As 1997 will be a decisive year for this programme, the support and encouragement of the international community is vitally needed to permit UNHCR to provide an opportunity for the refugees to return home, reintegrate and contribute to the peace process.


1. Angola

(a) Beneficiaries

33. As at 31 December 1996, Angola hosted 9,381 refugees, 9,341 of whom originated from Zaire. Of this caseload, 57 per cent are men and 47 per cent are women. The average family size among the Zairian refugees is four persons and 51 per cent of the refugees are children. Most of the refugees are in rural areas, with only 114 living in urban areas.

34. UNHCR also provided assistance to 82,500 Angolan returnees in the Cabinda, Uige and Zaire provinces. Some 59,400 of these returnees returned to their places of origin during the course of 1996. Between 1 January and 31 December 1996, some 588 Zairian refugees were repatriated.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

35. Although some progress was achieved in the peace process, such as the quartering of UNITA troops and the disarmament process, delays in the implementation of the peace agreement between the Government of Angola and UNITA resulted in the postponement of organized voluntary repatriation. UNHCR intends to initiate organized voluntary repatriation during the second half of 1997 for the return of some 82,000 refugees from Zaire, Zambia, Congo, Namibia and various other countries. It is also the intention of the Office to facilitate the reintegration of spontaneous and organized returnees, expected to number over 300,000, through the implementation of QIPs, which will restore basic services in major returnee areas. Access routes to major returnee areas will be rehabilitated and mine awareness campaigns will be undertaken in returnee and local communities.

36. The design and implementation of returnee projects will continue to aim at promoting the sustainability of UNHCR intervention, and QIPs will be linked with longer-term development programmes initiated by the Government, multilateral and bilateral, NGOs and donors. Returnees will receive basic food and will also benefit from the distribution of agricultural seeds and tool kits. Food rations will be discontinued following the first harvest.

37. The promotion of voluntary repatriation for Zairian refugees will continue to be pursued in 1997/1998. Assistance will continue to be provided to urban refugees, particularly in regard to medical care, the provision of food to vulnerable groups and counselling services.

38. Developments in Zaire will be closely monitored and contingency plans developed to respond to the needs of refugees should an unplanned return of Angolan refugees or an influx of Zairian or other refugees occur. Local and regional stocks will be maintained for any humanitarian intervention that may be required.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

39. The Government refugee status determination agency, CORDA, will be responsible for the implementation of protection activities for refugees and asylum-seekers in Angola. The main UNHCR Government counterpart, MINARS, will be strengthened in close cooperation with UNDP and the World Bank. WFP and UNHCR ensure food security through the distribution of food items to returnees.

40. UNHCR's NGO implementing partners are the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Médecins sans Frontières (France and Belgium), the International Medical Corps (IMC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and African Humanitarian Action (AHA).

(d) Budget

41. Given the slow pace of implementation of the peace process and the less than expected donor response to the appeal, a significant scaling down of operational activities became necessary in 1996. Total funding available ($ 17.7 million) fell far short of the revised requirements of $ 27.8 million, and some activities had to be deferred to the 1997 programme.

42. As organized movements and most of the reintegration activities are expected to take place in 1997, UNHCR's requirements for Angola in 1997 are higher than originally anticipated and currently amount to $ 30.4 million. During 1998, linkages already established with development programmes will be strengthened as UNHCR phases down its activities and presence in rural Angola.

(e) Post situation

43. Given the complexity of the situation on the ground, the remoteness and consequent lack of infrastructure in major areas of return, Field Offices established in 1996 continue to be necessary. During 1997, UNHCR Angola will maintain its readiness to respond to mass repatriation, as required. The level of posts currently proposed for January 1998 (149 posts) will be reviewed during the course of 1997 based, inter alia, on progress in the repatriation programme and donor contributions.

(f) Implementation of policy priorities (women, children, environment)

44. Efforts are underway to introduce gender-sensitive programme planning, following a People Oriented Planning workshop held in January 1997. Income-generation activities for refugee women are being planned, and new initiatives involving refugee women in peace building activities and conflict resolution are being supported under the General Initiative Fund for Refugee Women.

(g) Oversight reports

45. No reports were initiated during the period under review.

2. Malawi

(a) Beneficiaries

46. As at 31 December 1996, Malawi hosted 1,262 refugees and 372 asylum-seekers from Rwanda, Zaire, Burundi, Somalia and several other countries. Protection and material assistance continued to be provided at the Dzaleka refugee camp in Dowa District, 45 kilometres east of the capital Lilongwe. This caseload comprises 52 per cent males and 48 per cent females, with children below twelve years representing 32 per cent of the total population.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

47. The significant increase in the number of asylum-seekers from the Great Lakes region (Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire) was of particular concern to the Government of Malawi. In previous years, the refugee influx of urban refugees averaged 30 individuals per month. Over 300 persons, however, arrived between 6 December 1996 and 7 January 1997. In an attempt to discourage the refugee influx from the Great Lakes region, the Government has adopted a new policy. The Government's view is that, since the situation in Rwanda has stabilized and Rwandans are repatriating, Rwandan refugees in Malawi should be repatriated and no further Rwandans would be accepted as refugees.

48. The expected change of the Government's refugee policy to allow refugees to engage in income-generation did not materialize. As a result, only a few refugees were assisted in 1996. During 1997, UNHCR will endeavour to persuade the Government to allow refugees to be more involved in income-generating activities in order to achieve self-reliance.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

49. UNHCR's main implementing partners are the Malawi Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation Affairs (on behalf of the Government of Malawi).

(d) Budget

50. As compared to 1996, the 1997 budget has been reduced and assistance will focus on urban refugees. The proposed 1998 General Programmes budget is slightly lower than the revised 1997 budget. Increased resources, however, will be allocated to vocational training and income generation activities for urban refugees. Budgetary amounts under Special Programmes cover reforestation and road improvement activities in areas formerly hosting refugees.

(e) Post situation

51. The UNHCR Branch Office in Malawi has been reduced to 15 posts in 1997, as compared to 20 in 1996 and 53 in 1995. A discontinuation of two posts is foreseen by the end of 1997 and a further three posts will be discontinued in the course of 1998, in line with the reduction of the caseload and the focus on the small caseload of urban refugees.

(f) Implementation of policy priorities (women, children, environment)

52. A refugee committee at Dowa, composed mainly of women, is still functional and assists the camp administration in planning and the delivery of assistance to the population. Under the supervision of the committee, social and vocational activities were implemented for 171 students, of whom 61 were girls.

53. Following the successful repatriation of Mozambican refugees in July 1995, limited assistance continued to be provided to the Government to augment its efforts in addressing the environmental damage caused by the presence of over a million refugees for several years. The German Government contributed $ 612,000 for reforestation and road improvement in former refugee hosting districts of Malawi. The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Works, the Evangelical Lutheran Development Programme and the Coordination Unit for Rehabilitation on the Environment.

(g) Oversight Reports

54. No reports were initiated during the period under review.

3. Mozambique

(a) Beneficiaries

55. As at 31 December 1996, there were some 600 asylum-seekers and refugees in Mozambique, of whom 268 received UNHCR assistance. The asylum-seekers are mainly from Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, Angola, and Somalia. The refugees are mainly young, educated males of urban origin, between 17 and 35 years of age. Women and children constitute 65 per cent of the overall caseload, with women comprising 26 per cent of the total population.

56. Approximately 80 per cent of 1.7 million refugees returned to Mozambique spontaneously and were appropriately reintegrated in their home villages. Some 25 per cent of the returnees were comprised of female headed households, whereas 47 per cent of the returnee population were men.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

57. There were no major protection developments in Mozambique during the reporting period, except for irregular refugee movements, which are posing challenges to the Eligibility Commission. The Commission has continued to deliberate on asylum claims, albeit at a slow pace. With regard to assistance, UNHCR has tried to expand and rehabilitate the Massaca transit centre, in view of overcrowding caused by the increased number of refugees. As a result of the difficulties encountered in 1997 with the expansion, however, UNHCR is working with the Government to develop a much larger site near Maputo, which would allow refugees a greater level of self-sufficiency through agricultural work.

58. Given the regional objective of promoting self-reliance activities for urban refugees, the Branch Office in Mozambique is currently encouraging income-generating activities and vocational training, which could eventually lead to self-employment and possible local settlement of recognized refugees. In addition, UNHCR is working with other United Nations agencies and NGOs to develop training programmes for the legal community in the country, in an effort to promote capacity building and a culture of peace. UNHCR is also continuing with the programme of seminars for immigration personnel throughout the country, in order to increase understanding of refugee issues.

59. The successful conclusion of the Mozambican Repatriation and Reintegration Operation, which benefited 1.7 million returnees, was celebrated during a closing ceremony held on 24 July 1996. The event was attended by more than 150 representatives of the Government of Mozambique, former asylum and donor countries, United Nations agencies, NGOs and other organizations. UNHCR was represented by the Assistant High Commissioner. It should be underlined that UNHCR, through 55 implementing partners, completed 1,575 QIPs, which included the reconstruction of health clinics, drilling of shallow wells/boreholes, repair of classrooms, rehabilitation of access roads and the distribution of agricultural tools and seeds.

(c) Budgets

60. As compared to 1996, the revised 1997 General Programmes budget for care and maintenance assistance to urban refugees in Mozambique has increased, due to the inclusion of programme delivery costs which were previously charged to the repatriation project. The revised 1998 General Programmes budget will be slightly lower than the revised 1997 budget, due to decreasing programme delivery costs.

(d) Implementing partners/arrangements

61. Nucleo de Apoio aos refugiados (NAR) is UNHCR's direct governmental counterpart in Mozambique and is also a co-signatory to all implementing instruments. NAR is also responsible for the management of the Massaca centre for urban refugees and serves as the Secretariat for the Eligibility Commission, which interviews asylum-seekers. The planned assistance activities for 1997 will focus on self-reliance for urban refugees and a suitable NGO will be identified in the latter part of 1997.

62. NAR was also a co-signatory to all tripartite implementing instruments for reintegration programmes. Most UNHCR funded QIPs were implemented by 46 international and national NGOs. Some of these organizations contributed their own resources to the programme.

63. Cooperation with various United Nations and other agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank, the European Union, the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Finnish International Development Agency (FINNIDA) and GTZ) was enhanced, so as to ensure sustainability of UNHCR's reintegration programme. WFP and World Vision supplied, transported and distributed basic food rations to returnees.

(e) Post situation

64. At the end of September 1996, UNHCR closed all of its the three sub-offices in the provinces. The Branch Office was moved to a smaller building and the number of posts was reduced to 14 from 125 in 1996. During 1998, only 10 posts will be maintained in Mozambique.

(f) Implementation of programme priorities (women, children, environment)

65. The returnee projects, primarily in the water, health and education sectors, mainly benefited women and children. Children also continue to benefit from primary education and women have better access to potable water from shallow wells and boreholes in the vicinity. Furthermore, a number of district seminars were organized by UNHCR and attended by traditional leaders, during which gender issues were discussed at length. These included the promotion of girls' attendance in primary schools.

(g) Oversight Reports

66. A joint UNHCR/donor mission to review the Mozambique reintegration programme was undertaken in March and April 1996. The ensuing report drew attention to the many advantages derived from UNHCR's strong field presence and logistical capacity, as well as the decentralized nature of the reintegration programme. The review, however, called upon UNHCR to improve its human resources management procedures, strengthen technical capacity in the field and to implement the policies on community participation and women more systematically. UNHCR has taken note of the evaluation report and will endeavour to implement its recommendations.

4. Zambia

(a) Beneficiaries

67. As at 31 March 1997, Zambia hosted a refugee population of 136,023 persons, comprising 109,005 Angolans, 20,480 Zairians, 902 Rwandans, 824 Somalis, 349 Burundians and 4,463 persons of various other nationalities. The majority of the refugee population is composed of women, are of a rural background and are spontaneously settled along the border. Some 32,000 Angolan refugees who receive direct assistance, are living in the Meheba and Mayukwayukwa settlements.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

68. Major developments in 1996 mainly concerned preparations for the voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees and the provision of assistance to refugees in Zambia. The organized repatriation of Angolan refugees had to be deferred, due to the slow pace of the implementation of the peace accord in their country of origin. Asylum-seekers of urban background from Zaire, Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia continued to arrive throughout the year.

69. As a result of the recent conflict in Zaire, increasing numbers of refugees have been crossing the border into Zambia. The total number of refugees registered by the Government as at 15 February 1997 was 3,400. The majority of the refugees are arriving by boat at Mpulungu, the main port in Zambia on Lake Tanganyika. Preliminary surveys indicate that the arrivals represent a mixture of refugees and displaced Zairians in transit to other locations in Shaba, Zaire. A small number of Rwandans and Burundians have also arrived. A temporary accommodation centre for Zairian, Burundian and Rwandan arrivals was established near Kasama in the Northern Province and emergency humanitarian assistance was provided to these refugees.

70. During 1997, the UNHCR offices in Angola and Zambia intend to initiate organized voluntary repatriation movements of Angolan refugees from the Meheba and Mayukwayukwa settlements. In conjunction with the Government, UNHCR will endeavour to interest donors in post repatriation assistance programmes for the rehabilitation of the refugee impacted environment.

71. Assistance to new refugees in reception centres will be continued, pending durable solutions. Refugees who do not come from urban areas in their country of origin and cannot sustain their livelihood in towns, will be encouraged to go to the Meheba agricultural settlement. For refugees of urban origin, a self-reliance scheme will be implemented in 1997/1998, with a view to consolidating a credit scheme already existing since 1996. UNHCR Lusaka will continue to coordinate with the various UNHCR offices within the SADC region to harmonize modalities for assistance and protection, and to promote local integration for those not willing to repatriate for valid reasons.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

72. The Office of the Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the principal Government body dealing with UNHCR and refugees in Zambia. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is UNHCR's main implementing partner in the Meheba and Mayukwayukwa refugee settlements. AFRICARE implements the programmes at the Makeni training centre for urban refugees in and around Lusaka, while the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) implements care and maintenance programmes for urban refugees. The YMCA is also providing educational counselling and implementing a credit scheme. The Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) is UNHCR's primary implementing partner for assistance to new arrivals entering Zambia in the Northern and Luapula Provinces.

(d) Budget

73. The slight increase in the revised 1997 General Programmes budget in Zambia is directly related to assistance being provided to the small influx of asylum-seekers from Zaire. The proposed 1998 General Programmes budget is at a level similar to that of the initial 1997 budget.

(e) Post situation

74. The Field presence established at Meheba settlement for the purpose of monitoring the Angolan repatriation operation, will be maintained throughout 1997. The creation, as at 1 January 1997, of an Assistant Programme Officer post was partially offset by the discontinuation, as at 1 July 1997, of a Cleaner post. The overall level of posts will, thus, remain at 35 for 1998.

(f) Oversight reports

75. No reports were initiated during the period under review.

5. Zimbabwe

(a) Beneficiaries

76. As at 31 December 1996, Zimbabwe hosted 1,286 urban refugees and asylum-seekers, of whom 285 were recognized refugees receiving assistance. The refugees originate from Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, the Sudan, Burundi, Angola, Zaire and various other countries.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

77. Congruent with UNHCR's regional objectives, the assistance project is mainly focused on self-reliance activities for urban refugees in order to facilitate self-employment and eventual local integration. In this connection, vocational training and income-generating activities are being encouraged, so as to enable increasing numbers of refugees to work towards self-sufficiency.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

78. The Government, through the Refugee Services Unit of the Department of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, continues to implement the major part of the care and maintenance project for urban refugees in Zimbabwe. The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) remains UNHCR's implementing partner in the vocational training, income generation and education programmes for urban refugees. The Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) is currently sponsoring additional refugee students for vocational and secondary school education.

(d) Budget

79. The revised 1997 General Programmes budget reflects a slight reduction over the 1996 allocation, mainly due to the completion of construction activities at the Waterfalls transit centre in 1996. A substantial budget allocation is foreseen for vocational training and income generating activities, requiring a slight increase in the initial 1998 General Programmes budget. The planned resettlement to Zimbabwe of 55 Ethiopian refugees from Madagascar may require a further increase.

(e) Post situation

80. There are currently ten posts in Branch Office Harare, as compared to 15 in 1996. The office is currently headed by one international staff member, with many protection, programme and administrative functions being covered by local staff. It is envisaged that the staffing level at Branch Office Harare will be further reduced to eight posts.

(f) Implementation of policy priorities (women, children, environment)

81. Environmental degradation, particularly deforestation, caused by the previous presence of Mozambican refugees, has been of great concern to the Government. Although UNHCR has been unable to provide direct support for rehabilitation efforts, it has continued to support the Government in the maintenance of the existing infrastructure in the camps in order to prevent further degradation.

82. The women's income generating/skills training club, established through ICMC, will continue to promote and encourage the participation of urban refugee women. The club will also provide a forum for group therapy work and counselling. More contacts with local women's clubs are envisaged in 1997, to assist refugee women to reintegrate within the local community.

83. In order to safeguard childrens' rights to education, UNHCR will continue to complement the special services for children already provided by ICMC.

(g) Oversight Reports

84. No reports were initiated during the period under review.

6. South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Namibia and Swaziland

(a) Beneficiaries

South Africa

85. According to the Department of Home Affairs, the total number of refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa, as at 31 December 1996, was 22,600, of whom 5,370 were assisted refugees. These asylum-seekers and refugees originate mainly from Angola (3,880), Zaire (2,510), Somalia (2,370), Nigeria (2,580) and Pakistan (1,900). Most of the asylum-seekers are single males within the economically active age group, generally below 30 years, who specifically came to South Africa in search of employment and in order to improve their economic condition. In addition, in view of the cessation clause which was applied to Mozambique refugees with effect from 31 December 1996, some 89,000 Mozambican refugees opted to remain in South Africa and may be granted permanent residence during the course of 1997.


86. As at 31 December 1996, Namibia hosted some 2,200 refugees, of whom 2,070 were of Angolan origin and the remainder were of other nationalities. The majority, approximately 2,000, were being assisted at the Osire camp, located 225 kilometres from the capital, while the other refugees, who were pursuing education and further training, were residing in Windhoek. As compared to 1996, there has been an increase of some 500 persons, mainly due to new arrivals from the southern part of Angola, where the security situation has reportedly not yet improved.


87. As at 31 December 1996, Swaziland hosted 581 persons of concern, of whom 369 had been granted asylum and the remainder were awaiting decisions from the Political Asylum Committee. The current caseload is a mixture of urban refugees originating from various countries in Africa. The majority of the refugee population is composed of single males of urban origin in their mid-twenties.


88. As at 31 December 1996, Botswana hosted 210 refugees and asylum-seekers, of whom 145 were Angolans and the remainder of other nationalities. A total of 152 refugees were being assisted and the majority of them are residing at Dukwe settlement near Francistown, where income-generating activities are being implemented. The population figures represent a slight decrease over 1996, primarily due to irregular movements to other countries. The composition of this caseload remains at approximately 50 per cent men, 15 per cent women and 35 per cent children.


89. There are only 35 recognized refugees in Lesotho, of whom two applicants from the Sudan were recently granted refugee status. Illegal entry continues, but the numbers have decreased. The immigration department indicated that 100 illegal immigrants were deported during 1996.


90. A total of 76 Ethiopian refugees continue to reside in Madagascar. Given their reluctance to return to their home country, however, coupled with lack of cooperation by the Government of Madagascar, there are plans to resettle 55 of these Ethiopians to Zimbabwe.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

South Africa

91. The Republic of South Africa has agreed to regularize the stay of 89,000 Mozambican refugees, following the application of the cessation clause on 31 December 1996. Hence, those who have resided in the country for five years or more, will be entitled to apply for permanent resident status, which may ultimately lead to naturalization, if relevant criteria are fulfilled.

92. In January 1996, South Africa acceded to the 1951 Convention, the 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention without any reservations. In the absence of a refugee act, refugees and asylum-seekers are being dealt with under the 1991 Aliens Control Act and the basic Agreement between UNHCR and the Government of South Africa. A refugee act is soon expected to be tabled before Parliament and the ongoing review of migration policies will be completed by the end of 1998.

93. Given that the preferred durable solution for urban refugees in southern Africa is local integration, a workshop on promotion of self-reliance activities was held in Pretoria in February and March 1997. The purpose of the workshop was to draw up consistent regional and country strategies for the promotion of self-reliance activities and possible local integration of urban refugees. Such strategies will be based on income-generating, micro-credit, vocational and language training activities.


94. As a result of the erratic functioning of the Eligibility Committee over the last ten years, the Government requested the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), with the help of UNHCR, to assume responsibility for the pre-screening and compiling of files on asylum-seekers. A Tripartite Agreement between the Ministry of Home Affairs, the government department responsible for refugee administration and UNHCR was signed in June 1996. In March 1997, the Eligibility Committee completed decisions on 60 cases which had been presented to the LAC.

95. The primary school in the Osire camp was taken over by the Government after completion of renovations to the three buildings converted to classrooms, which will accommodate about 600 children.


96. The country continues to grapple with economic and political instability. It is plagued with high inflation and an alarming unemployment rate, while labour unrest, strikes and crime have increased. Despite these problems, some of the refugees have managed to attain a level of self-sufficiency through viable income-generating activities. UNHCR has, therefore, completely phased out cash assistance to urban refugees and care and maintenance assistance is provided only to those needy refugees who have no other source of support.


97. While repatriation of Angolans is still the preferred durable solution, it is envisaged that some might opt to remain in Botswana. For this group, agricultural production and appropriate income-generating activities will be encouraged in order to facilitate self-employment and eventual local integration. Accurate population statistics were recently obtained, based on a population survey, which indicated a reduction of the caseload from 312 to 214 refugees.


98. The 76 Ethiopian mandate refugees in this country have no official status. They also lack accommodation and other related communal facilities. Given the reluctance of the Government to give any status to this group, UNHCR is investigating the possibility of resettling 55 of them to Zimbabwe.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

99. In view of the relatively small caseloads in southern Africa, most country programmes feature only one implementing partner, namely CARITAS in Swaziland, the Council of Churches in Namibia, the Botswana Council for Refugees and the South African Red Cross Society. UNHCR has continued its endeavours to promote self-reliance for urban refugees in South Africa and, in this connection, the Japanese Volunteer Centre has been requested to implement a specific project providing vocational training to 400 refugees.

(d) Budget

South Africa

100. The revised 1997 General Programmes budget reflects a 16 per cent increase over 1996, in view of the number of recognized refugees and the change of focus to income-generating activities. A further increase over the 1997 budget is proposed for 1998, as the Director's Office becomes fully staffed. Care and maintenance assistance will continue to be provided to some 5,370 needy refugees. In addition, 400 refugees out of this population are pursuing vocational training under a project funded by the Japanese Government.


101. The initial 1997 budget was based on the assumption that 1,000 Angolan refugees would repatriate in the latter part of 1997, thus reducing the caseload in Namibia to some 1,110 persons. Due to their delayed repatriation, however, an increase in the 1997 budget was therefore required to allow for the continued assistance to Angolan refugees for at least six months of 1997.


102. The revised 1997 and initial 1998 budget allocations are lower than the 1996 budget, due to the decreasing caseload.


103. The reduction in the caseload and the promotion of self-reliance activities have resulted in a significant reduction of the 1997 budget. There will be a further budget decrease in 1998.


104. No budget provision is foreseen for the care and maintenance of urban refugees in 1997, as material assistance, if required, will be covered through direct implementation from South Africa. Hence, only a small allocation for programme delivery costs is included in the 1997 and 1998 budgets.


105. The 1997 budget allocation is the same as in 1996, but both the 1997 and 1998 budgets will be subject to review if the resettlement of 55 Ethiopians to Zimbabwe materializes.

(e) Post situation

South Africa

106. Due to the creation of the Director's Office in Pretoria, a number of posts have been proposed for reclassification and redeployment to this office. There will be a total of 36 posts in the Regional Office and Director's Office during 1997, including two recently created posts of Project Control Officer and Personnel Assistant.


107. A post of Repatriation Assistant was created in 1997 to undertake repatriation related activities for the benefit of Angolan refugees. No changes are envisaged for 1998.


108. No changes are foreseen in respect to the current staffing complement of four posts.


109. The post of Senior Liaison Officer will be redeployed to the Office of the Director in Pretoria in mid-1997 and four local staff posts will remain in Botswana.


110. The Regional Office for Southern Africa is covering UNHCR activities in Lesotho.

(f) Implementation of policy priorities (women, children, environment)

111. With the exception of Namibia, most of the urban refugees residing in southern Africa are single males, with women and children consequently representing only a small percentage of the caseload. It should, however, be noted that education assistance to refugee children is provided throughout the region. Furthermore, the priority issues regarding women and children, including protection, access to food, medical care, education, as well as the participation of women in decision making, are being adhered to throughout the programme planning and implementation process in southern Africa.

South Africa

112. The Catholic Diocese, operating under a UNHCR supported NGO forum, continues to assist Angolan children who are attending primary school and also offers English language classes to refugee women. The South African Red Cross Society, UNHCR's implementing partner, has arranged for the provision of free medical care to refugee women with local hospitals. A special tailoring project, funded by the Canadian Government and implemented by the South African Red Cross Society, benefited 16 refugee women in 1996, the majority of whom were Angolans.


113. Some 350 refugee children at Osire camp continued to receive elementary education in primary schools and kindergartens, as well as supplementary feeding. Income-generation projects were implemented for refugee women, with a particular emphasis on small-scale gardening. A special Women in Development project, benefiting both refugee women at Osire camp, as well as poor Namibian women, was implemented in 1996, with funding from the Canadian Government. Refugee women participate in language and literacy programmes in the camp. A programme to empower refugee women through community development has been implemented since 1995.


114. Most refugee women in Swaziland are of Angolan origin and benefit from the regular care and maintenance assistance provided at the Malindza settlement. In addition, some 40 women organized themselves into sewing and knitting groups, a venture which was supported through the procurement of sewing machines. Refugee children receive assistance to attend primary school and refugee women receive language training.


115. All refugee children in Botswana benefited from education assistance in 1996. Refugee women were organized in self-help groups, but Angolan women displayed little interest in such activities, in view of their imminent repatriation. During 1997, a new project for refugee women will be implemented by the University of Botswana, in collaboration with Botswana Council of Refugees. Some income-generation activities benefiting refugee women are being implemented.

(g) Oversight Reports

116. Please refer to section II. F, paragraphs 18 through 20, on the inspection mission to southern Africa, of this report.

(Note: Tabular annexes not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)

[1] Because of the time-frame for preparation of this document, the designation 'Zaire' is used throughout the text. The change of name to 'the Democratic Republic of the Congo' has, however, been reflected in the annexed maps.