Joint IOM-UNHCR appeal to help tens of thousands of Angolan refugees return home
The UN's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and IOM are today jointly appealing for close to US$ 21 million to help more than 34,000 Angolan refugees return home to Angola this year.
Another 26,000 are expected to return to Angola in 2012 with the largest number of returnees over the two years coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), currently host to more than 111,000 Angolan refugees.
Although UNHCR's large-scale voluntary repatriation operation of Angolan refugees closed in 2007, about 146,000 Angolan refugees in total remain in Botswana, the DRC, the Republic of Congo (ROC), Namibia and Zambia, nearly 10 years after the end of Angola's brutal civil war.
Many of the refugees in the DRC and Zambia are still living in camps and dependent on humanitarian assistance for survival.
They, and Angolan refugees in the other three host countries, also cease to be refugees at the end of the year and should they stay on, will become migrants instead.
With the five host countries and the Angolan government keen to find durable solutions for the Angolan refugees, helping those who want to return home provides a unique opportunity to bring closure to one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world.
Over the past few weeks, 124 refugees from two camps in Zambia have already been assisted home by IOM and UNHCR. Nearly 9,000 Angolans out of more than 25,000 in Zambia have so far expressed a desire to return home.
UNHCR has already begun mass information campaigns and go-and-see visits to enable refugees to make an informed decision on returning to Angola.
The two organizations will work together on the operation which includes assisting refugees obtain vital documentation, the provision of medical screening, shelter and other humanitarian assistance at way stations and transit centres in the host countries.
IOM will transport the refugees and their belongings to Angola by road or air, while in the DRC, it will also provide technical support to immigration authorities at the main land border points between the two countries.
The Organization, which has been asked by the Angolan government to establish and operate transit and reception centres in Angola for returning refugees, will also focus on the rehabilitation of roads and the transportation of the refugees to final destinations in Bengo, Cabinda, Huambo, Moxico, Uige and Zaire provinces. IOM will also provide medical escort for vulnerable individuals.
The Angolan Ministry for Social Welfare and Reintegration (MINARS), which is coordinating the Angolan voluntary repatriation operation with UNHCR and IOM, will provide returnees with social reintegration kits. These include construction and agricultural tools and items for income generating activities as well as a three month food ration which IOM will distribute.
In addition to providing technical advice and support to the Angolan government, UNHCR will monitor the returns, address any protection issues that may occur, work with authorities on issuance of civil documents and provide Portuguese language instruction to refugees returning from the DRC, ROC and Zambia.
For further information, at IOM, please contact Jemini Pandya, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9486/+ 41 79 217 3374 Email: email@example.com or Jumbe Omari Jumbe Tel: + 41 22 717 9405/+ 41 79 812 7734 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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