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Update on Developments in the Southern African Region

Executive Committee Meetings

Update on Developments in the Southern African Region

25 May 1998



1. Part II of this document provides an overview of the structure of UNHCR's operations in the Southern African region and the related challenges, objectives and priorities. Part III provides information on the Angolan Repatriation Operation, and Part IV comprises individual country reviews. Relevant budget, post and statistical tables and selected maps are included as annexes.


A. Restructuring and consolidation of UNHCR's operations in the region

2. Southern Africa encompasses sixteen countries covering 25 per cent of the African continent. With a population of 121 million people, this is a vast and complex region, as are the issues and tasks faced there by UNHCR.

3. Within this context, the Office of the Director for Southern Africa in Pretoria has the responsibility to develop policy for the region, to implement decentralized financial and human resources management and to develop and implement regional training, capacity-building and external relations strategies. In the spirit of improving UNHCR efficiency and effectiveness, the Office was set up to bring UNHCR management, policy and decision-making closer to the refugees and returnees in the region. The staff in the Director's office provide support, technical advice and policy for 235 staff (including Junior Professional Officers (JPOs) and United Nations Volunteers (UNVs)) in the Southern Africa Operation. The Office also serves as the Organization's test environment of the new policies and procedures being developed in the context of change management, resource management and cost-efficiency.

4. The Director's office currently coordinates a network of five main offices serving the needs of refugees, returnees and asylum-seekers. Countries covered are Angola (which, in relation to the Angolan repatriation, also manages Lubumbashi, Kisenge, and Kimpese in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. The Director's office also covers the Regional Office in South Africa which is responsible for activities in Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Madagascar and Mauritius.

5. Responding to the High Commissioner's call to "do more with less" and in the spirit of United Nations reform, UNHCR's operations and presence in the region are in the process of being further streamlined and restructured. Sufficient capacity has been developed over the years in the region to take on more direct responsibility for the refugee populations. UNHCR will maintain, as is appropriate, protection functions and a coordination and monitoring role as provided by Article 35 of the 1951 Convention. Programmes currently being carried out by Branch Offices in Zimbabwe and Malawi will be incorporated into a regional mechanism and consolidated into a Regional Office in Zambia. Likewise, programmes in Mozambique, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana and Madagascar will be managed by the Regional Office in South Africa. In so doing, five offices will be reduced during 1998 and ultimately closed by June 1999. Thus, the administrative costs will be reduced while the mandated current level of operational expenditure will be maintained.

B.Regional challenges

6. The Southern Africa region is composed of many fragile democracies that have recently emerged from conflict, civil war and the legacy of apartheid. Recent events illustrate the possible displacement of people in the area. Tensions between the rich and the poor, and the old régimes and the new democracies continue to cause some concern as we approach 1999. Many social and economic challenges present destabilizing factors. The proliferation of arms and the failure to destroy them after demobilization, as in Mozambique and Angola, threaten peace in the region, and the presence of mercenaries contributes to the unease. UNHCR's presence in Southern Africa is crucial to monitor, analyse and prepare for future events.

7. Xenophobia is a real and growing threat in Southern Africa. There is increasing fear and resentment directed towards foreigners, particularly migrants from other countries in Africa. Underdevelopment and the lack of any viable economic opportunities in the region lead to a steady stream of economic migrants; genuine refugees are not distinguished. The recession in the region contributes to the misapprehension that refugees are stealing jobs and services from needy citizens. UNHCR will be monitoring these developments in the coming year and implementing public awareness programmes, further described below, to attempt to curb the growth of this xenophobia.

8. Refugees from the Great Lakes region of Africa pose particular challenges. UNHCR screening teams are in the process of determining refugee status for thousands of Rwandans in the region. The issue of what options are available for those Rwandans determined not to be refugees is a continuing concern and will need some global resolution in the near future. Additionally, the prospects of separating armed, former military members from civilian populations must be addressed and appropriate plans developed.

9. UNHCR offices in the region continue to develop durable solutions for the largely urban-based refugees, with particular attention being paid to local integration. At the same time, UNHCR will continue to work with Governments to strengthen national commitments and capacities in order to uphold the right of asylum and protection. UNHCR offices are harmonizing the conditions and modalities to provide protection, assistance and durable solutions to refugees and asylum-seekers in the region.

C. Six objectives for Southern Africa

10. Within the above parameters, there are six regional objectives shared by all of the offices, for which the Director's office provides policy, guidance, advice and support, monitors progress, and reports on to the High Commissioner. These objectives, set in February 1997, are:

(i) To develop regional and country capacities to carry out the new functions and responsibilities delegated to the field within the framework of UNHCR's change management process in order to ensure efficient delivery of services to refugees;

(ii) To obtain a durable solution for some 240,000 Angolan refugees in the region through voluntary repatriation and reintegration;

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

(iv) To strengthen UNHCR's relationship with Governments, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in order to consolidate national commitments and capacities to uphold the right to seek asylum and international refugee law principles and incorporate them into national legislation;

(v) To support contingency planning and rehabilitation in order to ensure emergency preparedness and early responses to possible refugee outflows; and

(vi) To raise public awareness and develop a constituency for refugees and UNHCR's goals and activities in Southern Africa, and to sensitize and work with Governments, NGOs, the media and the public on the plight of refugees.

D.Priorities and directions

(a) Protection

11. UNHCR's protection efforts in the region will focus on the following activities, as determined at the regional protection meeting held in June 1997:

(i) All offices will actively promote the enactment or amendment of national refugee legislation which is in conformity with international and regional law and which incorporates an effective human rights regime for the protection of refugees consistent with the humanitarian tradition of Africa;

(ii) Offices will continue to make efforts to secure the establishment of effective national institutions and procedures for refugee status determination and systematically train government counterparts concerned with refugee protection so that UNHCR can assume a more supervisory role; and

(iii) Offices will continue to actively encourage countries within the Southern Africa region to provide for the local integration of refugees or to consider providing regional resettlement opportunities within the region.

(b) Durable solutions

12. The preponderance of refugees throughout the Southern Africa region are urban-based and UNHCR will thus continue to pursue durable solutions that are designed to meet their particular social and economic needs including, in particular, efforts to enable their local integration and self-reliance.

13. In the transition from implementing care and maintenance programmes to setting up income-generating activities and vocational training, offices have largely phased out the system of cash grants and are making efforts to change the culture of dependency, which too many refugees have become accustomed, and instead promote a culture of self-sufficiency.

(c) Training and capacity-building

14. During 1998 and into 1999, training and capacity-building in the region will focus on three areas:

(i) Strengthening the capacity of NGO implementing partners and government counterparts to take over responsibilities delegated to them in the process of restructuring UNHCR offices. Training will include protection, status determination and eligibility, programme and financial management, advocacy, fund-raising and communication;

(ii) Increasing the knowledge and skills of UNHCR staff necessary to absorb the delegation of responsibility to the field as part of the decentralization processes; and

(iii) Using the knowledge and resources within the region, to continue a series of workshops and seminars under the auspices of the Division of International Protection focusing on protection needs, developments and concerns in the region.

(d) External relations and public information

15. During 1997, the External Relations and Public Information Unit undertook a series of activities aimed at mobilizing support and building public awareness. In 1998, the office will continue to mobilize support for UNHCR by developing effective working relationships with Governments, NGOs and other institutions and by building public awareness through education and advocacy. The following actions will be taken:

(i) Developing a public awareness campaign, in an African context, that focuses on the root causes of refugee movements and fosters a human approach to the plight of refugees;

(ii) Highlighting state responsibility for refugee protection; and

(iii) Encouraging positive public attitudes towards legitimate refugee populations temporarily seeking protection in the countries of Southern Africa and to combat the phenomena of xenophobia in the region.

(e) Cooperation on refugees with the Southern Africa Development Community

16. In January 1998, the SADC Council of Ministers meeting in Maputo endorsed UNHCR's initiative to carry out consultations in the sub-region on the situation of refugees, returnees and displaced persons with a view to amending national legislation in conformity with international refugee law. To this end, UNHCR was requested by member States to make available the necessary professional human resources to assist in developing a declaration which would articulate a regional plan of action to be submitted for adoption to the heads of states summit in September 1998. A draft declaration is already in place.

(f) Contingency planning and emergency preparedness

17. Responding to the perceived needs of countries in the region, UNHCR will be participating in, and contributing to, mechanisms to respond to regional emergencies. Particular emphasis will be placed on including refugee planning and management on the agenda of any regional emergency strategy. To this end, UNHCR, in June 1998, is hosting a seminar at the policy making level for SADC member States on refugee emergency management and preparedness to develop regional plans, and an emergency management training workshop for UNHCR offices and NGO implementing partners and counterparts from 14 countries will be held in June 1998. Furthermore, UNHCR will actively participate in Southern African peace-keeping and peace-making training and initiatives to be held in the latter part of 1998. Indeed, the member States have showed interest in supporting humanitarian operations by regional peacekeeping initiatives when appropriate.


18. The Angolan repatriation operation covers all activities for the voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration of Angolan refugees. Planning for this programme is based firstly on the reiterated statement of the Angolan Government in early 1998 that it desires to see Angolan refugees repatriate as soon as possible.

19. Secondly, reports from the asylum countries (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, the Republic of Congo, and Zambia) have confirmed the wish of many refugees to repatriate to Angola. This wish will be supplemented by a campaign informing the refugees on the situation in Angola and on the modes of repatriation.

20. Thirdly, the general political situation, as it stands today in Angola, is deemed conducive to repatriation. State administration has been extended to all main areas of return.

21. In addition to 12,976 Angolans who returned in 1995, some 113,200 Angolan refugees returned home from neighbouring countries between January 1996 and December 1997 and received assistance in the form of individual packages (food, seeds and tools). The returnees have also benefited from the rehabilitated community based projects which have ameliorated the education, health and water supply services. These project interventions have resulted in assured potable water for returnees and improved maternal health care, and have enabled returnee children to attend schools in their home villages.

22. On 9 April 1998, UNHCR's appeal for Angola was issued, requesting a total of $ 23 million for the repatriation and reintegration of 160,000 returnees in 1998.

23. It is anticipated that the remaining 80,000 refugees will return in early 1999, for whom a separate budget could be submitted in due course. UNHCR thus intends to phase out the operation by 1999.

24. Given the funding constraints facing the Angolan repatriation programme, UNHCR will only be able to maintain a minimal logistics capacity and will hardly be able to provide the necessary assistance to returnees, the majority of whom are women and children. In this connection, a contingency plan has been developed which includes measures to hand over all rehabilitated infrastructure in returnee areas starting in mid-1998. It has to be underlined that the Government may not as yet be in a position to ensure their continued functioning. In any case, linkages have been established by UNHCR with development organizations to assist the Government in the efficient management of the rehabilitated facilities, particularly health clinics and schools.

25. Timely contributions from donors will be absolutely essential to support minimal reintegration activities for the Angolan returnees and to enhance capacity-building for the Government, with a subsequent smooth phase out of the UNHCR returnee programme.


1. Angola

(a) Beneficiaries

26. During 1997, some 54,000 Angolan refugees from neighbouring countries returned to their country of origin and were assisted under the UNHCR returnee programme. Of these, 29,000 returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 25,000 from Zambia.

27. A total of 9,400 refugees reside in Angola, the majority of whom are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the remainder coming from the Republic of Congo, Mauritania, Somalia, Uganda, Liberia, Chad, Rwanda and Burundi.

28. The majority of the refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo originate from Katanga province and have a rural background. They reside in the Angolan provinces of Bengo, Moxico, Lunda Sul, Kwanza Norte, Kwanza Sul and Malange.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

29. Most of the tasks under the Lusaka Protocol have been accomplished during 1997 and the first months of 1998. These include the official statement by UNITA that it had demilitarized all its troops, the movement of the UNITA leadership (excluding its President) to Luanda, the recognition of UNITA as a political party, agreement on the status and security of the leader of UNITA, the appointment of UNITA officials as Governors in some provinces and the replacement of VORGAN radio by a non-propaganda radio. In addition, state administration has been extended to 80 per cent of the country.

30. In view of the above, UNHCR will promote repatriation in 1998, making available shuttle services between some of the major entry points from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and transit facilities further inland. Most funding of implementing partners engaged in rehabilitation and running of basic services in returnee areas will cease before the end of 1998 as the schools, clinics and other infrastructures will be handed over to the Government at an accelerated pace due to poor UNHCR funding prospects. The linkages that have been established with development agencies and the capacity-building of the Government are slowly being operationalized, but are also plagued by limited funding. In February 1998, UNHCR conducted a regional training workshop on repatriation for Government officials, NGOs and UNHCR staff. The UNHCR returnee programme is expected to close in 1999.

31. With the political changes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997, opportunities have opened up for the return of refugees to that country. It is envisaged that a project to be funded under the Great Lakes operation will cover the costs of this voluntary repatriation.

32. A team started to screen 1,836 Rwandan asylum-seekers settled in eastern Angola on 28 March 1998. By late April 1998, some 100 refugees had been interviewed, of whom 32 had been recommended for inclusion. Once the screening exercise is over, the remaining genuine refugees will hopefully be relocated to an area further from the border (Sacassange near Luena in Moxico) where agricultural activities could be promoted.

33. A total of 317 Rwandan and 13 Burundi asylum-seekers left Luau camp in Moxico province for western Zambia alleging fears of possible forced repatriation. These departures, which started in October 1997, are continuing.

34. Following a press briefing on 5 March 1998 during which the Angolan Ambassador to Zambia levelled a number of accusations regarding clandestine support being extended to UNITA from Zambian territory, namely from the Meheba refugee camp, a tripartite mission was undertaken on 17 March 1998 comprising officials from the Zambian Ministry of Home Affairs, UNHCR and the Angola Embassy in Lusaka. The main allegation was that UNITA fighters were entering Zambia under the disguise of Rwandan refugees from Luau. It was also alleged that a few new arrivals in Meheba were involved in arms trafficking. After thorough investigation and individual interviews with Rwandan refugees in Meheba, the mission was unable to substantiate the allegations. UNHCR is not in a position to deny or confirm these allegations.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

35. COREDA, the government agency responsible for status determination, is now also involved in the screening of Rwandan refugees. UNHCR is furthermore cooperating with the Returnee Unit (UNAR) in the Ministry of Social Reinsertion (MINARS) on the coordination and implementation of the returnee programme and with the Department of Social Promotion (DNAPS) of the same ministry on the Rwandan refugee programme.

36. International NGOs continue to assist UNHCR in the rehabilitation and maintenance of basic services in returnee areas. Increasingly, ownership for these services will be handed over to technical ministries. In 1998, UNHCR's implementing partners are the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Médecins sans Frontières (Belgium), the International Medical Corps (IMC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), German Agro Action (GAA), Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA) and the Ministry of Social Insertion (MINARS).

(d) Budget

37. Due to the poor funding projections and very limited funding received in the first months of 1998, a further prioritization has been made within the total budget for this operation as announced in the consolidated United Nations appeal and in UNHCR's own appeal, amounting to $ 23 million (including Headquarters support costs). This prioritization, however, should be seen as a contingency measure, as it precludes rehabilitation of infrastructure and basic services in some major returnee areas where this had not been done in previous years due to inaccessibility and an accelerated withdrawal of UNHCR's presence due to funding constraints. In addition, UNHCR no longer has the capacity to undertake massive organized movements of returnees due to its very limited logistics capacity.

(e) Post situation

38. The acute financial constraints faced by the Angolan repatriation operation led to a substantial reduction in posts during 1997. This has adversely affected the capacity of the Branch Office to discharge its protection responsibilities. UNHCR, however, continues to monitor protection and assistance activities using two international staff members at each sub-office and four United Nations Volunteers.

39. Given the expected funding constraints during 1998 and 1999, UNHCR will be compelled to close one sub-office and two field offices in the northern region of Angola by September 1998, while one sub-office and four field offices in the eastern region will be closed by mid-1999. It is nonetheless envisaged that a minimum level of staffing will be maintained at the Branch Office after the completion of the repatriation and reintegration operation to carry out the assistance activities for some 2,000 Rwandan and Burundi refugees in Moxico Province, repatriation of some 9,200 Congolese (of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) refugees, and support to some remaining 200 urban-based refugees residing in Luanda.

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

40. Guidelines have been developed by the Branch Office in Angola to ensure the inclusion of gender awareness in existing sectors of assistance. These guidelines are an integral part of project agreements that are concluded with implementing partners and are meant to ensure the mainstreaming of UNHCR policies in health, education and other assistance activities.

(g) Oversight reports

41. Internal and external audits were carried out in Angola during the period under review. Replies to the internal audit were provided, and most of the audit queries have been followed up and have led to remedial action vis-à-vis Branch Office management, implementing partners' project implementation, and financial management in UNAR. Replies to the external audit are under preparation.

2. Malawi

(a) Beneficiaries

42. The population of refugees and asylum-seekers in Malawi stood at 1,600 on 31 December 1997. The majority were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo but they also included others from Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Ethiopia. The population was comprised of 59.3 per cent males and 40.7 per cent females. Children under twelve made up 50.6 per cent of the total population. They were all receiving care and maintenance in the Dzaleka refugee camp.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

43. The main preoccupation in 1997 was the increase in the numbers of asylum-seekers from the Great Lakes region of Africa. A screening exercise was carried out for Rwandan asylum-seekers to establish why they could not return home when thousands of others were doing so from countries neighbouring Rwanda. A group of UNHCR Protection Officers, working with government legal officers, carried out the exercise and found that some 19 cases could not be recommended for the granting of asylum as their claims did not stand up to scrutiny. During the course of 1997, 70 Rwandan refugees volunteered for repatriation and were assisted to do so.

44. Some 200 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been registered for voluntary repatriation since September 1997 but, due to the shortage of funds under the Great Lakes operation, it was not possible to assist them to leave Malawi until early May 1998.

45. The Government has relaxed its policy to allow refugees to engage in income-generating activities, and the department responsible for refugee affairs has proposed amendments to national legislation to lift reservations to Convention provisions relating to refugee education and employment. UNHCR continues to work closely with the relevant authorities to have the proposed amendments implemented.

46. In the meantime, recognized refugees are being allocated family plots and assistance with erecting individual shelters away from the reception/transit centre. Each family will receive agricultural inputs with the objective that they should meet some or all of their food needs after the next harvest so that the cost of maintenance can be reduced, and the refugees can be set on the way to self-support.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

47. The Department of Relief and Rehabilitation in the Office of the President is responsible for refugee affairs and is UNHCR's main implementing partner. The Department provides administrative staff for the Dzaleka refugee camp, but the day to day running of the camp is the responsibility of the Malawi Red Cross, which also provides counselling for individuals and groups.

(d) Budget

48. The Malawi programme was affected by the general shortage of resources and activities had to be curtailed in line with budget reductions under General Programmes. The main activities postponed were shelter construction, refugee law training, vocational training, and some income-generating activities. Activities under Special Programmes for the rehabilitation of the environment continued in the areas formerly hosting Mozambican refugees.

(e) Post situation

49. In the general restructuring and downsizing within the Southern Africa operations, three posts were discontinued at the end of 1997. It is planned that 1998 will be a period for preparing implementing partners to take over all assistance activities of the Branch Office by June 1999 when UNHCR would close its office and the Branch Office in Lusaka would assume oversight responsibilities for protection and programme activities.

3. Mozambique

(a) Beneficiaries

50. As at 31 December 1997, there were 500 asylum-seekers and refugees in Mozambique, of whom 309 received UNHCR assistance. The asylum-seekers are mainly from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The refugees are mainly young, educated males of urban origin, between 18 and 59 years of age (41 per cent). Women and children constitute 59 per cent of the overall caseload.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

51. The main protection issue of concern to UNHCR continues to be the slow pace by which the Eligibility Commission and Ministry of Interior consider and decide asylum applications. The Commission only made recommendations on 60 cases last year and has made no recommendations in 1998 (as of 30 April). This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Ministry of Interior has not issued a final decision on any cases in 1997 or 1998. UNHCR continues to work with the Government officials to increase both capacity and commitment for prompt decision making on applications.

52. Another key element of the protection work in Mozambique has focused on capacity-building and the promotion of international standards of refugee law. In coordination with Nucleo de Apoio aos Refugiados (NAR), the government agency responsible for refugee matters, the protection unit has sponsored two training sessions and several roundtable workshops for government officials involved in assistance or adjudication of refugee matters. 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.

53. With regard to assistance, UNHCR is working with NAR on the rehabilitation of a new refugee transit centre, Maracuene, located 30 kilometres from Maputo. As the former residence, Massaca II, has consistently been overcrowded and is scheduled to be closed by the Government in the near future, the refugees will be moved to the new centre. Although the rehabilitation has progressed slower than originally envisaged, it is foreseen that it will be completed by May 1998. This new facility will also encourage refugees to be self-sufficient, as they will have agricultural land to grow food for their own consumption and to sell in local markets.

54. Given the regional objective of promoting self-reliance activities for urban refugees, the Branch Office in Mozambique continues to encourage income-generating activities and vocational training, which could eventually lead to self-employment and local integration of recognized refugees. An implementing partner, World Relief International, has been identified and has begun a programme of training and small-scale credit to assist the refugees with local integration.

55. The UNHCR Branch Office in Maputo, in coordination with the Resettlement Section at Headquarters, started discussions with the Government of Mozambique on the possibility of resettling some 10,000 Somali refugees of Bantu origin from the refugee camps in Kenya to Mozambique. Research was conducted on the origin and social profile of this population so as to identify a suitable environment for local integration as well as acceptance by the local community. Although there has been considerable interest in the project, a definite decision has not yet been reached by the Government of Mozambique.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

56. The NAR is UNHCR's government counterpart in Mozambique and is a co-signatory to all implementing agreements. NAR is also responsible for the management of the Massaca II centre and serves as the Secretariat for the Eligibility Commission which interviews asylum-seekers and makes recommendations to the Minister of Interior regarding claims. As noted above, the new self-reliance assistance programme is being implemented through World Relief International.

(d) Budget

57. The 1998 revised General Programmes budget for care and maintenance assistance to urban refugees decreased in comparison to the 1997 budget, while there has been an increase in the budget for the implementation of the new local settlement assistance. However, the administrative budgets for 1998 and 1999 are substantially reduced due to reductions in staffing and related administrative costs in the context of the implementation of the downsizing strategy in the sub-region.

(e) Post situation

58. In order to meet the requirements for administrative budget reductions and given the increased capacity of NAR, additional UNHCR posts will be discontinued during 1998; it is planned that only six posts will be maintained as of August 1998.

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

59. Consideration is given in all aspects of programme operations, both self-reliance and care and maintenance, to the inclusion of women in decision making and implementation. All primary school aged children are provided with education facilities by the Government and all are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. As the refugee population is relatively small and urban-based, there has been little impact on the environment due to their presence.

(g) Oversight reports

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

4. Zambia

(a) Beneficiaries

61. As at 31 December 1997, Zambia hosted some 165,000 refugees, including 120,000 spontaneously settled Angolans who did not receive material assistance from the Office. The assisted population comprised of 27,000 Angolans (in the Meheba and Mayukwayukwa settlements and urban-based), 13,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1,750 from Burundi, 2,100 from Rwanda, 570 from Somalia and almost 400 of other nationalities. The majority of these refugees are of a rural background, of whom 50 per cent are women. Of the total population, 47 per cent is under the age of sixteen years.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

62. The major development during 1997 was the insurgent conflict in the former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), which saw new arrivals of Congolese (of the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Rwandan and Burundi refugees through diverse entry points which were far apart and posed logistical problems. Two transit centres were established in Natende (for civilian refugees) and in Nkolemfumu (for ex-combatants), both in the Northern Province. Natende was, however, closed down in November 1997 after the majority of the refugees had voluntarily repatriated. In total, 6,700 persons, including 450 ex-DSP soldiers, entered Zambia as a result of the conflict, but only 4,928 were assisted. The rest merely used Zambia as a transit point to relocate to then safer parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The transit centre for the ex-combatants has also since been closed following the spontaneous departure of the refugees.

63. The political situation in certain parts of Burundi and Rwanda remains volatile and it is not anticipated that refugees from these two countries will repatriate soon. Similarly, massive voluntary repatriation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also not foreseen in the near future, but up to 3,000 refugees may opt to return during 1998, once the legal framework for their return has been finalized.

64. The realization of the Angolan peace process proceeded at a slow pace, thus hampering chances of massive returns during 1997. In spite of less than expected funding for the Angolan repatriation operation, some individuals were assisted to spontaneously repatriate with minimal reintegration assistance packages. This form of limited assistance will be continued during 1998, and 16,000 refugees are expected to benefit from it.

65. The Office is actively involved in the development of revised national legislation on refugees, as well as in the enhancement of the Government's capacity to handle refugee matters. The existing legal assistance project, wholly funded by UNHCR, will be handed over to the Government during 1998.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

66. 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 is UNHCR's main implementing partner in the Meheba and Mayukwayukwa refugee settlements. AFRICARE implements the programmes at the training centre for urban refugees. The YMCA provides for the welfare of urban refugees, as well as implementing a credit scheme. The involvement of the Zambia Red Cross Society has been reduced to a bare minimum after the closure of the two transit centres in the Northern Province.

(d) Budget

67. Current 1998 budget requirements represent a slight increase over the previous year due to the delay in voluntary repatriation to Angola and the concomitant need to strengthen local settlement and care and maintenance operations, especially in the critical fields of health and nutrition, community development, vocational training and income-generation. The cost of procuring drugs also rose by 40 per cent.

(e) Post situation

68. The field office in Mayukwayukwa was closed at the end of 1997. A reduced field presence in Meheba will be maintained throughout 1998, and the Branch Office in Lusaka will continue to facilitate the local integration of both urban and rural-based refugees in Zambia, with new responsibilities for Zimbabwe. Thus, while the total number of posts is being reduced, some of the further post discontinuations foreseen for 1998 are being offset by a few post creations required mainly due to the assumption of oversight responsibilities for the Branch Office in Zimbabwe. It is thus expected that the overall post level in Zambia will be 32 during 1998 (as compared to 36 as at 1 January 1997).

(f) Oversight reports

69. An internal audit is scheduled to take place during 1998. Implementing partners, other than the Government, are in the process of submitting their audit reports.

5. Zimbabwe

(a) Beneficiaries

70. As of December 1997, Zimbabwe was host to 800 urban refugees, as well as 100 asylum-seekers. The refugees are mostly from Rwanda, Somalia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

(b) Recent development and objectives

71. UNHCR continued to strengthen the self-sufficiency activities undertaken by refugees, through the provision of funds, technical advice from experts and continuous training on how to run small businesses. Language training, job placement, employment, education, vocational skills training and counselling services were also provided.

72. There were fears that El Niño would result in a serious drought in Southern Africa, as it did during its last occurrence in 1991/1992. To avoid a repetition of the devastation and human suffering that it caused, FAO, in cooperation with other United Nations agencies, has networked closely with Governments, donors and NGOs in formulating contingency plans to prepare for possible emergencies.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

73. 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 for 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

74. The 1997 General Programmes expenditure was less than the previous year, mainly due to the completion of construction activities at the Waterfalls transit centre during 1996. The 1998 General Programmes budget is slightly higher than in 1997 as an allocation has been foreseen for vocational training and income-generating activities.

(e) Post situation

75. There are currently ten posts in Branch Office Harare, as compared to 15 in early 1997. The recent reassignment of the Representative gave rise to a decision to discontinue the post in the context of the regional strategy of restructuring UNHCR's operations and presence in the sub-region. Presently, protection, programme and administrative functions are being covered by local staff, with oversight functions being assumed by the Branch Office in Zambia. Further reductions in staffing levels are envisaged during 1998 and 1999.

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

76. Environmental degradation, particularly deforestation, caused by the previous presence of Mozambican refugees has been an issue 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. A permaculture project is being implemented by SAFIRE, an NGO which deals with former refugee affected areas.

77. 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 1999 to assist refugee women to reintegrate within the local community.

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

(g) Oversight reports

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

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

(a) Beneficiaries

South Africa

80. During 1997, the Government received some 16,400 asylum applications. During the year, some 1,100 applications were approved and 1,200 were rejected. At the end of the year, some 21,700 applications remained pending.


81. At the end of 1997, the refugee population comprised of Angolans (2,000) and others from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (31), the Republic of Congo (11), Burundi (35), Rwanda (20), Liberia (8), Malawi (1), and Cameroon (1). All are based at Osire refugee camp. An estimated 560 unassisted refugees, mostly from Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, live in Windhoek.


82. As at 31 December 1997, 600 persons had been accorded refugee status, while a further 100 persons were awaiting final deliberations on their status. The refugee community is dominated by young, single males who mostly come from urban backgrounds in the Great Lakes region of Africa.


83. The majority of refugees in Botswana are Angolans who number 220 persons at Dukwe refugee camp. Other refugees originate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (28), Somalia (15), Burundi (12), Uganda (6), Mozambique (6), Rwanda (5), Ethiopia (4), Mali (3) and Kenya (1).


84. There are 26 recognized refugees and a small number of asylum-seekers in Lesotho. UNHCR does not have a regular presence in the country and the needs of refugees are addressed through an arrangement with UNDP.

(b) Recent developments and objectives

South Africa

85. UNHCR assistance to help clear the large backlog of asylum applications and screened-out economic migrants who abuse the asylum procedure has hitherto yielded mixed results. Although to date, 10,645 applications have been processed by the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs, there still remains a considerable backlog.

86. Despite the various inputs by the Office to establish refugee legislation, little progress has been achieved in the development of a comprehensive refugee policy in South Africa. However, a new draft Refugee Bill has been prepared by the Department of Home Affairs and it is hoped that it will be enacted in the course of this year.

87. Some progress has been made in the strengthening of refugee fora and the establishment of a National Refugee Consortium to provide a framework to bring together NGOs and other stakeholders in refugee issues for purposes of consultation and coordination. This should make the delivery of counselling and assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers more effective. A majority of asylum-seekers and refugees have managed to live a partially integrated life by engaging in self-supporting activities through their own initiatives, without UNHCR financial support.


88. The current modalities for the provision of protection and assistance to asylum-seekers and refugees will have to be significantly modified if the strategy to promote self-reliance of urban refugees is expected to be implemented with any chance of success. The first step to achieve this is the promotion of voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees. Once Angolan refugees have achieved a durable solution, the remaining caseload will consist of a limited number of individual cases, for whom the per capita cost of maintaining a refugee structure in Osire will no longer be justified.


89. Significant progress was achieved in the areas of refugee advocacy, local capacity-building and public awareness. UNHCR has also achieved considerable success in reinforcing coordination activities with the PARinAC group and was able to launch a quarterly newsletter which has been widely distributed both within and outside the country.

90. Despite numerous efforts, not much progress has been made in terms of finalizing the draft Refugee Bill.


91. While the 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 and naturalization.


92. Of the 54 Ethiopian refugees who had been in Madagascar since 1994, 13 cases were resettled in New Zealand, one in Norway, one in the United Kingdom and ten in Australia. The balance are being processed for resettlement to either Canada or the United States in the course of 1998.

(c) Implementing partners/arrangements

93. 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 context, the Japanese Volunteer Centre has been requested to implement a specific project which will provide vocational training for 400 refugees.

94. UNHCR has begun intensive training and capacity-building programmes for NGOs in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia. The training covers human rights and refugee law, advocacy, communication and fund raising, as well as programme and financial management.

(d) Budget

South Africa

95. The 1997 General Programmes expenditure was higher than in 1996 as a result of the number of recognized refugees and the change of focus to income-generating activities. The slight increase in the 1998 budget reflects the twelve months budgetary requirements of the Director's office which had only been partially budgeted in 1997. 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.


96. The initial 1997 budget was based on the assumption that 1,000 Angolan refugees would repatriate in the latter part of the year, thus reducing the caseload in Namibia to some 1,110 persons. Due to their delayed repatriation, however, an increase in the 1997 budget was required to allow for the continued assistance to Angolan refugees for at least six months of 1997. In order to make provision for new arrivals, the 1998 budget has also been adjusted upward.


97. Cash grants have been entirely discontinued and replaced with income-generating activities; this required a slight increase in the 1998 budget.


98. There was a significant reduction in the 1997 budget based on the assumption that the majority of Angolans would opt for voluntary repatriation, thus reducing the caseload from 500 beneficiaries in 1996 to 235 in 1997. In addition, it was anticipated that the residual caseload would not require care and maintenance assistance, having commenced with income-generating activities in 1996. The residual caseload is still being assisted, pending the implementation of the naturalization process that has been agreed to by the Government of Botswana. In this regard, the 1998 budget has been increased as compared to the 1997 budget allocation. This increase also caters for building and strengthening the capacity of the Botswana Council for Refugees to assume added responsibility, especially in the areas of protection and local integration activities when UNHCR plans to phase out in December 1998.


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


100. Local integration activities are being reinforced in 1998 for the remaining beneficiaries who have not been resettled; this required a slight budgetary increase in 1998 as compared to 1997 expenditure.

(e) Post situation

South Africa

101. The creation of the Director's office in Pretoria was approved in late 1996 and was primarily established through the redeployment and reclassification of existing posts. There are currently 45 posts in the Regional Office for South Africa and in the Director's office.


102. A post of Repatriation Clerk was created as of 1 January 1997 to undertake repatriation related activities for the benefit of Angolan refugees. No changes are envisaged for 1998.


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


104. There has been a gradual reduction in the number of posts in Botswana, and only three posts are being maintained during 1998.


105. The Regional Office in South Africa is covering UNHCR activities in Lesotho.

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

106. 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 be noted, however, 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 included throughout the programme planning and implementation process in Southern Africa.

South Africa

107. 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 continued to benefit refugee women in 1997, the majority of whom were Angolans.


108. Some 350 refugee children at the Osire camp continued to benefit from 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, continued in 1997 with funding from the Canadian Government. Refugee women also participate in language and literacy programmes in the camp. A programme to empower refugee women through community development has been implemented since 1995.


109. 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.


110. All refugee children in Botswana benefited from education assistance in 1997. 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 also being implemented.

(g) Oversight reports

111. The Regional Office carried out periodic reviews on the implementation of the Inspection and Evaluation Service's findings and recommendations to ensure appropriate follow-up. The comments and observations of the Regional Office to the audit findings have been submitted to Headquarters within the prescribed deadlines and detailed plans have been assigned to the units concerned to ensure that the appropriate actions are taken to implement the audit recommendations.

(Note: Tabular Annexes I-IV not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)

1 All posts (Professional and General Service), including those projected for less than a full year, but excluding Junior Professional Officers (JPOs) working in the following countries as at 1 January 1998: Mozambique (1), Republic of South Africa (1) and Zambia (1).