Angola + 1 more

Zambia: Rebels among refugees

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JOHANNESBURG, 17 January (IRIN) - As thousands of Angolan refugees flee into western Zambia, diplomatic sources have told IRIN they were concerned that some UNITA rebels had slipped into the country with them.
The sources said that this could apply to a group of more than 7,000 refugees who have entered southwest Zambia, mainly from the longtime UNITA stronghold of Jamba in southern Angola which the Angolan government claimed it had captured during the past two weeks.

The UNITA rebels said to have been identified among the refugees include a leading figure in the movement's "Black Cockerel" radio station which had broadcast UNITA propaganda in the region for several years.

The sources declined to give further details, and relief officials said they only had access to refugees who had already been screened by the Zambian authorities.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday the number of Angolan refugees who had crossed in Zambia since the start of a government offensive against UNITA last October now stood at over 20,000, bringing the total number of Angolans in Zambia to an estimated 170,000.

Last week, the Zambian authorities said they would not grant Angolan forces the right to use its territory to pursue the rebels as in neighbouring Namibia.

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