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Zambia: 10,000 Angolans reported returned since cease-fire

Briefing notes

Zambia: 10,000 Angolans reported returned since cease-fire

5 July 2002

UNHCR in Zambia reported this week that an estimated 10,000 Angolan refugees have spontaneously left Zambia since the cease-fire in Angola in March this year. This figure includes 4,000 who have left established camps and at least 6,000 who were settled in urban areas in western Zambia.

About 3,000 of the first Angolan returnees had been recent arrivals at Meheba refugee camp, in north-western Zambia. Another 1,000 are believed to have left the camp of Mayukwayukwa, in western Zambia. Some refugees advise us of their departure, but many others do not.

Information coming from local chiefs and Zambian officials at the Lukulu and Mwinilunga exit points also indicates that 6,000 Angolans who had been living in local communities in Zambia had returned.

Most of the returns from Zambia are believed to be headed for Moxico Province, which just across the border from western Zambia.

The movement is continuing on a small scale every day according to UNHCR staff in Zambia, who estimate that 15,000 could returned by September when the rainy season will start in Angola.

UNHCR is holding regular meetings with refugee leaders in the Zambia camps to inform them about the situation in Angola. The general feeling is that recently-arrived refugees - since October last year - are eager to go back quickly, while long-time refugees are more prudent and adopting a "wait-and-see" attitude.

Zambia is host to 225,000 Angolan refugees, including some 81,000 in four UNHCR camps. In all, there are 470,000 Angolan refugees in the region, mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Namibia. UNHCR estimates that as many as 80,000 could spontaneously return from neighbouring countries before the end of this year.