Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) - The Zambian government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) continue with the voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees as cessation of their status approaches on 30 June, 2012.
A total of 33 Angolan refugees returned to Angola’s Huambo town on 16 May by plane from Mongu Airport, western Zambia.
According to a joint statement released by the Zambian Ministry of Home Affairs and UNHRC, on Thursday, an additional 45 Angolans have been repatriated to Moxico province from Mongu, while 41 are repatriated from Solwezi, north-western Zambia destined for Luena, bringing the total number of Angolan refugees repatriated in the last two days to 119 from the two settlements of Meheba and Mayukwayukwa.
More flights are expected to follow in the coming days.
Zambia’s Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, Max Nkole, during his joint visit with UNHCR Representative Joyce Mends-Cole, last April to Meheba settlement, urged Angolan refugees to come forward now and voluntarily register for repatriation before their refugee status ceases.
“I want to emphasize that this repatriation is voluntary, the Angolan refugees should take advantage of this period when there is assistance from UNHCR to return home,” Nkole appealed to the refugees.
The Zambian government and the UNHCR had notified Angolan refugees, since 24 April, that their status will cease from 30 June, 2012.
The first batch of organized Angolan voluntary repatriation was implemented from 2003 to 2007 during which a total of 74,000 refugees were voluntarily repatriated to Angola from Zambia’s camps and settlements.
In addition, according to confirmed reports from Angola, majority of the over 100,000 self-settled refugees from Zambia also returned home on their own during that period.
The Zambian government and the UNHCR are working in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which is facilitating logistics and transportation for the refugees from the settlements to the final destination in Angola.
Zambia currently hosts 23,000 Angolan refugees.
-0- PANA MM/VAO 17May2012