UNHCR Briefing Notes: FYR of Macedonia, Angola/DR Congo, Afghanistan/Pakistan
1. Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
UNHCR welcomes the Peace Agreement for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) which was signed in Skopje yesterday by the leaders of the four main political parties. We hope that the peace agreement will eventually pave the way for the return of more than 125,000 people displaced since the conflict started in February this year. We urge all sides to abide by the agreement. The only alternative is more bloodshed, more uprooted people and more suffering.
Prior to the signing ceremony, people continued to flee the area in and around Tetovo and villages close to Radusa where heavy fighting continued throughout the weekend. UNHCR is concerned about the situation of hundreds of persons from the village of Ljuboten near Skopje which had been the scene of severe fighting during the weekend.
More than 2,000 persons crossed into Kosovo from Friday until Sunday evening, but the number of arrivals dropped sharply yesterday as people were awaiting the signing of the peace agreement in Skopje.
Some 5,000 persons displaced as a result of the fighting during last week have been registered by the Macedonian Red Cross, making the total number of displaced persons within the country 53,000.
2. Angola/Democratic Republic of Congo
Angolan refugees continued to arrive in the Bas Congo Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the weekend as UNHCR began registering more than 6,000 refugees who fled to DRC border areas last week following a UNITA offensive on the northern Angolan town of Beu and surrounding villages on August 3. By yesterday (Monday), UNHCR had registered nearly 6,118 refugees and was finalising plans to transfer the refugees to villages further away from the border. An estimated 1,500 refugees also remain scattered across several border villages.
Over the weekend, UNHCR staff visited three villages that have been proposed by local authorities for the settlement of the refugees. The villages, some 50 kms from the DRC border, can accommodate a total of 6,000 people. This morning, UNHCR will deploy teams of workers to the proposed villages to begin parcelling land for the settlement of the refugees. Each refugee family is expected to receive 0.5 hectares of land.
Because of extremely poor road conditions from the border areas, refugees will be expected to walk to the settlement areas later this week when UNHCR hopes to complete the distribution of basic supplies sent from the DRC capital, Kinshasa, last week. Arrangements are also being made to set up temporary support stations along the 50 km stretch from the border to provide basic en route assistance to the refugees. Mobile medical units will also patrol the route.
By yesterday, medical supplies enough to cover the needs of 10,000 people for three months had been received and are being distributed to health clinics in the area. UNHCR and health partners also plan to send additional medical staff to the clinics to cope with the increase in numbers in the area. An initial assessment shows that 5% of children under five suffer severe malnutrition.
Before the recent influx from Angola, the DRC was hosting over 180,000 Angolan refugees. UNHCR was assisting over 70,000 of them in the Bas-Congo and Katanga Provinces.
Afghans have been coming forward in increasing numbers to register at two screening centres jointly established by UNHCR and the Government of Pakistan in Jalozai and Nasir Bagh in north west Pakistan last week.
During the week, thousands have taken part in the first phase of the screening programme, which is expected to determine the refugee status of Afghans who have fled to Pakistan to escape the twin scourges of drought and conflict in their homeland.
More than 5,000 families from two Afghan settlements near Peshawar have been registered in the first week of the exercise, 3,247 in Jalozai and 1,829 in Nasir Bagh.
At the same time, 531 families from the two camps have opted to return home, 374 from Nasir Bagh and 157 from Jalozai.
Thirty joint UNHCR/government of Pakistan teams assisted by Pashto and Dari-speaking interpreters deployed in Jalozai and Nasir Bagh have been collecting information from heads of families who present themselves according to their respective residential blocks. The number of Afghans participating in the exercise is expected to increase significantly this week when more pre-screeners join the operation. The Afghans provide general information on their families and areas of origin in Afghanistan.
Those who express the wish to return to Afghanistan will be given an assistance package consisting of 6,000 rupees and 150 kgs of wheat.
Afghans who opt for the screening process, which is slated to begin in the next few weeks once all the initial family data has been collected, will be interviewed and those found to be in need of protection will be granted a temporary stay in Pakistan. All those accepted will be shifted from Jalozai and Nasir Bagh to a new camp, where they will be provided assistance by UNHCR and its partners.
Afghans whose case is rejected will have the right to appeal, but once a final decision is made, they would have to return home.
This document is intended for public information purposes only. It is not an official UN document.