Angola + 2 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 15 February

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ZAMBIA: UNHCR assists Angolan refugees
UNHCR has said it was starting to help Angolan refugees stranded in a border hamlet on the western banks of the Zambezi River move to a safer camp further inland.

"A fleet of seven lorries and four tractors is currently working in extremely difficult conditions to take Angolan refugees from Sinjembela to a new camp site in Nangweshi," said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond in a statement at the weekend. "So far 800 have been moved, but an estimated 10,000 still remain in Sinjembela."

Sinjembela lies on the Angolan border in southwest Zambia. Redmond said 23,668 Angolans had fled to Zambia since October. He said another influx was expected further north because of continued fighting between Angolan government forces and UNITA rebels.

ANGOLA: Rebels to release Russian airmen

The Russian government has reached an agreement with the Angolan rebel movement UNITA paving the way for the release of six Russian airmen taken prisoner last year after their aircraft was shot down in northern Angola, news reports said on Tuesday.

In a dispatch from Moscow, the Russian RIA-Novosti news agency quoted diplomatic sources as saying an agreement had been reached with UNITA officials in Europe for the release of the men to a third country. The report said that the timing and location of their release was being kept secret "in the interests of security".

NAMIBIA: Tensions affect tourism

Tourism in Namibia has fallen off because of tensions along the country's northern border with Angola, 'The Namibian' reported on Tuesday.

It said that since December when the government granted Angolan forces the right to use Namibian territory to launch attacks against UNITA, at least ten luxury game lodges had been forced to close leaving at least 200 people without jobs.

Quoting the chairman of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN), the report said some of the lodges had closed because they could not guarantee the safety of their guests. "Lodges that have been empty for the past two months have closed because of concern for the safety of their employees and families," said HAN Chairman Brian Black.

Black said the tension had also had a negative impact on Namibia's tourism industry as whole.

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