Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- The US government will this year provide US$2.
5 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Zambia for use on such activities as refugee children's welfare and the protection and assistance of refugees in general.
US embassy public affairs officer, James Greene, said in Lusaka on Friday that in addition, his government will also provide $170,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies and a further $250,000 to the International Organisation for Migration to fund the first phase of the repatriation of Angolan refugees from Zambia.
"About a quarter of the world's refugees are in Africa.
Thus far this year, the US has contributed $99 million to the UNHCR for its programmes in Africa and another $15.
4 million to the World Food Program (WFP) to cover critical gaps in the refugee food pipeline," Greene said.
Globally the US has provided $258.
4 million to date for the UNHCR's 2003 annual and supplementary programmes world-wide.
The US also provides critical assistance to the International Committee for the Red Cross, he said.
In addition, it has provided assistance to Africa by resettling 59,000 refugees in the US over the past five years.
The US response to refugee children based in Zambia is meant to coincide with the global observance of the World Refugee Day, which fell on Friday.
The US gesture comes at a time when Angolan refugees began to leave camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo to return to their homes following decades of exile.
The return of the refugees marked the launch of a voluntary repatriation programme organised by the UNHCR in cooperation with the governments of Angola and countries of asylum - Congo, Zambia and Namibia.
All together these countries are sheltering 400,000 Angolan refugees, 500 of whom returned home on Friday from DR Congo and Zambia.