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UNHCR, Angola, Zambia discuss repatriation of 450,000 refugees

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Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees will on Thursday and Friday meet here with Angolan and Zambian government officials to discuss the repatriation of some 450,000 Angolan refugees scattered across Southern Africa.
The meeting will be followed on Saturday by a field visit to Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement in Kaoma, western Zambia, Lusaka UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shimo said Wednesday.

Shimo said the meeting will be the second of its kind after Angola, Zambia and UNHCR first signed an agreement for the repatriation of Angolan refugees in Luanda on 28 November 2002, creating a tripartite commission to oversee the operation.

"The tripartite commission will oversee the practical application of the agreement, including visits to inform refugees of any matters relevant to the repatriation, such as the items they can take along with them, as well as guarantees regarding their safety back home," Shimo said.

The commission will also provide information on the areas of origin of the returnees, arrange 'go-and-see' visits and prepare transportation and accommodation, he said, adding that it would also help trace family members.

The UNHCR is planning to start actual repatriation of Angolans in August/September 2003 and to continue the exercise through 2005.

Shimo described the impending exodus as the biggest movement in recent years, as it involves 450,000 Angolans living in Southern Africa and a further 50,000 outside the continent.

Of the refugees in Africa, 211,000 are in Zambia, 193,000 in DR Congo, 24,500 in Namibia, 16,000 in Congo-Brazzaville and 10,000 in South Africa.

Pan African News Agency
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