Angolan refugees may be airlifted home

Angolan refugees may be airlifted home

THE repatriation of Angolan refugees from Namibia is likely to speed up in the coming weeks with authorities considering flying people back to their homeland.

In anticipation of the heavy October rains in Angola, the governments of the two countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), yesterday opened discussions on the possibility of airlifting refugees who come from provinces that do not border Namibia. Air travel is also being considered for refugees from areas in Angola where travel by road is not possible.To date, Angolan refugees who have opted for voluntary repatriation have been travelling by road – mostly to the Cuando-Cubango and Cunene provinces.Transporting people by air would be made possible through the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which has also secured funding for this exercise.An IOM representative observed discussions at the fourth Tripartite Commission Meeting held in Windhoek yesterday aimed at reviewing the voluntary repatriation process which began last year.So far, 7 035 Angolans who sought refuge in Namibia during the civil war in their country have returned home.Of this number, 5 567 returned home through the UNHCR-Government voluntary repatriation programme.These figures do not include at least 180 Angolans who have died during the repatriation programme.Officials hope to repatriate another 6 946 people before the end of this year.In total, the governments of Angola and Namibia, along with the UNHCR, would have repatriated nearly 14 000 people by the end of the exercise.Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Peter Mwatile, described the repatriation process as having progressed well so far and attributed much of the success to information campaigns which encourage repatriation.Mwatile said these campaigns had to be extended to include Rwandan refugees in Namibia none of whom have, to date, registered to return home.This is despite the fact that a tripartite agreement was signed last November already to facilitate their repatriation.Director for Assistance and Social Promotion in the Angolan Ministry of Assistance and Social Reintegration, Nilsa Pereira Batalha, said her government was eager to have Angolan refugees return to their homeland, but stressed that it was important that the process considered their security and dignity.She said the repatriation process was being hampered by poor physical conditions in Angola and the ongoing infrastructural development which was taking place.Last year some 4 905 Angolan refugees returned home from Namibia through various means while another 2130 left this year.Air travel is also being considered for refugees from areas in Angola where travel by road is not possible.To date, Angolan refugees who have opted for voluntary repatriation have been travelling by road – mostly to the Cuando-Cubango and Cunene provinces.Transporting people by air would be made possible through the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which has also secured funding for this exercise.An IOM representative observed discussions at the fourth Tripartite Commission Meeting held in Windhoek yesterday aimed at reviewing the voluntary repatriation process which began last year.So far, 7 035 Angolans who sought refuge in Namibia during the civil war in their country have returned home.Of this number, 5 567 returned home through the UNHCR-Government voluntary repatriation programme.These figures do not include at least 180 Angolans who have died during the repatriation programme.Officials hope to repatriate another 6 946 people before the end of this year.In total, the governments of Angola and Namibia, along with the UNHCR, would have repatriated nearly 14 000 people by the end of the exercise.Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Peter Mwatile, described the repatriation process as having progressed well so far and attributed much of the success to information campaigns which encourage repatriation.Mwatile said these campaigns had to be extended to include Rwandan refugees in Namibia none of whom have, to date, registered to return home.This is despite the fact that a tripartite agreement was signed last November already to facilitate their repatriation.Director for Assistance and Social Promotion in the Angolan Ministry of Assistance and Social Reintegration, Nilsa Pereira Batalha, said her government was eager to have Angolan refugees return to their homeland, but stressed that it was important that the process considered their security and dignity.She said the repatriation process was being hampered by poor physical conditions in Angola and the ongoing infrastructural development which was taking place.Last year some 4 905 Angolan refugees returned home from Namibia through various means while another 2130 left this year.

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