UPDATE: Return of Congolese refugees from Angola, 11 November 2019

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 11 Nov 2019

From 18 August, thousands of Congolese refugees spontaneously left Lóvua refugee settlement in Angola to make their way back home in the DRC.

A Tripartite Agreement was signed on 23 August between UNHCR and the Governments of Angola and DRC, in order to start organized Voluntary Repatriation movements.

On 9 October, the first organized convoy movement left Lóvua settlement with 218 persons on board.

On 14 October, 177 arrived in Tshikapa, and 41 in Kamonia. Since then, two additional convoys have been organized, bringing the total to 844 repatriated so far by UNHCR and partners.

In addition, UNHCR has provided cash and transportation assistance to 15,255 returnees in Kasai and Kasai Central provinces.

Background

Back in 2017, the outbreak of violence in the Kasai region of DRC triggered the displacement of some 1.4 million people, and the flight of over 35,000 refugees to Lunda Norte Province, in Angola. After presidential elections in DRC in early 2019, some refugees approached UNHCR, expressing their wish to return home. UNHCR and partners subsequently conducted “intentions surveys” in May, showing that 85% of the refugees in Lóvua settlement wanted to come back to DRC. On 23 August, UNHCR signed a Tripartite Agreement with the Angolan and DRC Governments to put in place mechanisms for dignified and sustainable returns. Briefed in July by visiting DRC officials about improved living conditions in the Kasais, refugees decided to respond en masse and started to return immediately.

Current situation

Organized repatriations: Organized voluntary repatriation started on 9 October. As of 30 October, 844 Congolese refugees were repatriated in three successive convoys to Tshikapa and Kamonia, in Kasai Province. Repatriates are being transported from Lóvua settlement (Angola) to the border crossing point of Kandjaji, then onto Mugamba Transit Center (where they receive return packages), and then to Tshikapa or Kamonia. Difficult road and weather conditions are posing challenges, nevertheless convoy movements continue. The first convoy to Kananga is planned for mid-November, through Kalamba Mbuji and Bilomba (a way station between Kalamba Mbuji and Kananga).