UNHCR Encourages Angolans to Return Home

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Zambia has said it will continue to encourage Angolan refugees to consider voluntary repatriation. UNHCR Representative in Zambia , Ms. Joyce Mends-Cole, briefing the press in Kawambwa District in northern Zambia following the holding of the Angolan tripartite meeting, said Angolans have limited time left. The tripartite meeting was held last week between the Governments of Angola and Zambia , including UNHCR. Angolan refugees should take advantage of the remaining period to repatriate. The Cessation Clause maybe invoked maybe invoked at the end of 2011. If this clause is invoked, it means that the refugee status of Angolans will cease refugees, she explained. As UNHCR, we believe the peace in Angola is durable. Ms Mends-Cole said while UNHCR is encouraging voluntary repatriation as the most preferred durable solution, other options such local integration and resettlement will be pursued. The Zambian Government, together with UNHCR are currently conducting the spontaneous Angolan repatriation. The UNHCR head in Zambia said her agency was currently conducting a re-verification exercise of refugees in the two settlements of Mayukwayukwa and Meheba, then the urban areas and the self-settled. So far, we have concluded the re-verification in Mayukwayukwa and we now have 9, 883, of which 8, 083 are Angolans. Of these Angolans in Mayukwayukwa, 52 percent want to return home, while 46 percent want to remain in Zambia , the rest are undecided, she explained. She said the Government of Zambia has not made its stance known regarding those Angolans who will opt to remain in Zambia. However, the Government will decide on what to do with those Angolans who opt to remain in Zambia , while UNHCR will play its advocacy role to lobby for the refugees. She said there are a variety of reasons why some Angolan refugees dont want to return to Angola . Some of the reasons she cited were the fact that some refugees were born in Zambia , others have lived in the country since 1966, while others are married to Zambians. The Government will decide what status to accord the refugees once the cessation clause is invoked. As for us as UNHCR, we will continue with our advocacy role to ensure that some alternative status is given to the Angolan refugees, she said. Between 2003 and 2007, UNHCR and the Government of Zambia repatriated 74, 000 Angolan refugees under the organized repatriation. An additional 2, 400 have been repatriated since 2008 under the ongoing Angolan spontaneous repatriation. The repatriation this year for Angolans has been slow. We have only managed to move two convoys, said Ms. Mends-Cole.

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