Angola: UNHCR looks to increase pace of returns
By the end of this week, 12,000 Angolans will have returned to their country from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia and Namibia, since the organised repatriation began on June 20th.
UNHCR is looking at gradually increasing the pace of returns as more areas become open for return in Angola. A total of 13 communes are now open for organised return, including six in Zaire Province, in the north of Angola, four in Moxico, in the east and three in Cuando Cubango, in the south-east.
Many other communes are still out of reach because of bad roads, broken bridges or the presence of landmines. UNHCR staff are currently visiting the Maquela area of Uige province and Calai area of Cuando Cubango Province to identify the next steps required to open up new corridors of return in the next 1-2 months. We have also appealed to the Angolan government to speed up the process of repair in some heavily-destroyed areas, so that they can become accessible for return.
Returnees spend the first few days back in Angola in reception centres, where they receive mine awareness training and information on HIV/AIDS. Before leaving the centre, they also receive some food, a construction and basic domestic supplies.
UNHCR is also working with the Food and Agricultural Organisation on a distribution plan for agricultural kits, which include seeds and tools to be handed out in September, in time for the upcoming planting season.
UNHCR is also trying to track down spontaneous returnees (estimated at over 130,000 since last year) who are also entitled to the same assistance return package. For instance, a joint UNHCR-OCHA [Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs] mission to Malange province confirmed that significant numbers of refugees are spontaneously returning to the province. The return population is scattered primarily across two districts of the province. Serious problems were noted for those attempting to cross the officially closed border from DRC into Malange province, including harassment by DRC and Angolan authorities
UNHCR has appealed for $29 million for the Angola operation and thus far has received over $15 million.