Plight of Angolan returnees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

from ACT Alliance
Published on 06 Jun 2012 View Original

Geneva, 06 June 2012

  1. Brief description of the emergency and impact

The Angolan civil war of 1972 – 2002 resulted in many people fleeing for safety in neighbouring countries like DRC and Zambia. According to the government of Angola and UNHCR 114,000 Angolans still live in bordering countries. Repatriation has been in phases. Last month (May 2012), repatriation resumed in the border of Uige between Angola and the DRC. It is estimated that about 12,000 people will be received back in Angola through the current exercise. The size of the families for most of the people being repatriated is five (5) to eight (8) people. The most vulnerable families are those composed of the elderly, single mothers and the disabled.

To receive the returnees two main transit camps have been created namely Maquela do Zombo and the Damba besides the camps in Kitumua. The returnees and their families can only stay three days at the camp before they can move to the villages, after receiving some food items which do not last long.
In some cases the returnees do not find their relatives, most of to whom could have died. As a solution the government of Angola is referring them the traditional village leaders (sobas) who are allocating them to abandoned houses. Most of these houses have broken walls and are not suitable for decent human habitation.


There is overcrowding of families who are already living in poor conditions, creating conflicts among them.

There is also shortage of food due to the increase in the number of people in families receiving returnees. Such shortage can easily create conditions in the village for young men and women to resort to prostitution and also an increase in criminal activities.

The lack of adequate health facilities will increase the level of infant mortality which is already high.
Harmful coping mechanisms such as selling existing goods to buy food are on the increase. There is huge frustration especially amongst men who do not have possibilities of employment because there are no factories in Uige. Malnutrition among children is also likely to be on the increase soon due to lack of adequate food.

3.ACT Alliance response

In May 2012 ACT Angola Forum carried a needs assessment in Uige through an ACT forum team comprising of staff of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Igreja Evangélica Reformada de Angola (IERA). As a result the ACT Angola Forum members met on Friday 31 st of May at the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) office in Luanda for an emergency meeting to discuss the results of the assessment and it was agreed to respond to the situation in two phases: the first an immediate life saving intervention through the ACT RRF mechanism and the secondly through long term development assistance. For the long term development intervention IERA will contact the funding ACT members separately.

ACT members currently working in Angola are IERA,Council of Christian Churches in Angola (Conselho de Igrejas Cristãs em Angola (CICA),Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), DanChurchAid (DCA), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Bread for the World (BftW), Christian Aid, FinnChurchAid and ICCO.

4.Requesting members planned activities ACT members are planning to provide immediate food assistance, domestic utensils and shelter.

The forum members have shared tasks and responsibilities for responding to this emergency. NCA will study the possibility of intervening in water supply. LWF will assist IERA on logistic issues for the RRF intervention based on their many years of experience in emergency response. BftW will assist with reviewing the RRF application proposal and assist in identifying facilitators for training returnee leaders.

BftW will also assist with monitoring project implementation.

Though there is a great need to focus on psychological counseling and assistance no ACT member in Angola has expertise in this area of which other ACT Alliance members are invited to help with such a service. Arrangements for visa application will be under IERA’s responsibility.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance ACT Alliance (

For further information please contact:
ACT Senior Programme Officer for Southern Africa and Development , Gorden Simango (phone +41 22 791 6319) or mobile phone +41 79 857 5334 or ACT Deputy General Secretary, Rebecca Larson (phone +41 22 791 6069 or mobile phone +41 79 376 1711)