Angola + 3 more

Government to repatriate 60,000 families until end of 2011

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Luena - The Social Welfare minister, João Baptista Kussumua, announced Saturday in Luena, eastern Moxico province, the Angolan Government will repatriate 60,000 refugee families currently based in Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia, until the end of this year.

The minister was speaking at a meeting with members of Moxico Government called to design a strategy for the repatriation of Angolan refugees still in neighbouring countries.

According to the minister, who was on few hours visit to Moxico, the operation will be starting in May, expecting to repatriate 10,000 families until the end of the first half of this year.

He also announced that 10 shelter and transit centres will be established to accommodate the returnees for 72 hours.

The minister also explained that the first phase will group refugees based in Zambia and Namibia, but the return of exiled families will be volunteer.

He explained that those who would want to remain away at the end of the operation will be free to do so, under the cover of the international special status.

With the start of the operation, he added, an average 500 families will be arriving in the country by road every week.

The process of repatriation will involve the ministries of Social Welfare (coordinator), Foreign Affairs, Interior, Justice, Health, Territory Administration, Finance, Education, Agriculture and Rural Development, Transport and the Armed Forces Staff.

Accompanying the minister in Moxico were the deputy ministers of Health, Carlos Alberto Masseca, Interior, Ângelo de Barros, representatives of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), UN High Commissioner for Refugees and officials from his office.