Returns to Angola
More than 5,300 Angolan refugees have gone home from neighbouring countries since the organised movement began on June 20. Yesterday (Thursday), 509 refugees boarded the latest repatriation convoy that will take them from Meheba refugee camp in Zambia to Cazombo in Angola. The refugees were scheduled to spend their last night on Zambian soil at Kamapanda, before crossing over into Angola early today (Friday). All the returnees are going back to Cazombo in Moxico province, eastern Angola.
Yesterday's movement, organised jointly by Zambian authorities, the International Organisation for Migration and UNHCR, comes close on the heels of two other convoys which took home Angolan refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday.
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 receive some food, a construction kit to help them set up their homes and basic domestic supplies. Later in the year, they will also receive seeds and farming tools in their home communities.
More than 30,000 refugees in Meheba have registered to return home in convoys that should transport up to 1,000 returnees each week. More refugees at the camp of 45,000 are queuing up to sign up for repatriation to Angola.
Next week, officials of the Zambian government and UNHCR will meet to plan a return programme for refugees living in three other refugee camps in western Zambia. The country is home to more than 200,000 Angolan refugees - half the total number of Angolan refugees in the region.
In October 2002, UNHCR launched an appeal for $29.4 million to aid the return of more than 200,000 Angolan refugees over a two year period (2003/2004). To date, the refugee agency has received just over $15 million of the funds requested from donors.