DRC: Agreement signed on Angolan refugee returns
A tripartite agreement for the repatriation of Angolan refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was signed in Kinshasa on Monday between the DRC, Angola and UNHCR. The agreement, signed by the DRC Minister of Interior and the Angolan ambassador to Kinshasa, sets the legal framework for the return of some 193,000 Angolan refugees in the DRC. It follows similar agreements that were signed in Luanda on November 28 with Zambia and Namibia, two other major asylum countries for Angolan refugees.
There are an estimated 450,000 Angolan refugees in the region, and another 50,000 living in exile across the world. Since February this year, more than 70,000 Angolans have already gone back spontaneously, of whom close to a quarter came from bordering provinces of the DRC, namely Bas-Congo, Bandundu and Katanga. UNHCR has strengthened its presence in provinces of return and signed partnership agreements with NGOs for the distribution of essential items and the rehabilitation of social infrastructures in Angola. The formal repatriation operation is set to begin in May next year. We anticipate that around 170,000 Angolans will return with UNHCR in 2003.