Thousands of Angolans flee renewed fighting: UNHCR

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 7 (AFP) - Renewed fighting in Angola's civil war has caused more than 10,000 people to flee the country so far this year, most in the past three weeks, a UN refugee agency official said here Tuesday.
Paulin Djomo of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told AFP that 10,322 refugees had fled in the first 11 months of the year, including some 2,500 Angolans who crossed the border into Namibia and 3,700 who had fled to Zambia since mid-November.

Zambia is already home to 32,000 Angolan refugees, displaced by earlier fighting in the southern Cuanda Cubango region.

While Namibia and Zambia have readily accepted refugees and helped them from the border to settlements, thousands are starving, Djomo said.

He said some Angolan refugees were however returning home despite the war.

In September and October, 700 returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo because "they are running from two conflicts and would rather die at home", said Djomo, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of southern African aid workers in Johannesburg.

A total of 14,066 came back to Angola's northern Zaire Province between April and October after government forces gained control of the area.

In southern and central Angola, however, the fighting between government forces and the UNITA rebel movement has made repatriation impossible.

In eastern Moxico Province the threat of landmines, which last month injured or killed 29 people, was too great for repatriations to take place.

bur/ef/db/gd AFP

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