June 17, 2002

UNHCR: Peace in Luanda is irreversible

The peace process in Angola seems to be irreversible this time, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) assistant commissioner Kamel Morjane has said.

Addressing journalists in Lusaka on June 16, Morjane said UNHCR was closely following what was happening in Angola so that the repatriation process could start. "Our impression is that the peace process seems to be irreversible this time. This is the impression all the observers have today," he said.

Morjane said the challenges ahead were those of demobilisation and reconstructing the country. He said two million Angolans have been assisted by the international community and the number will rise to three million. Morjane said UNHCR expects 80.000 Angolan refugees will go back spontaneously. "The conditions are precarious and do not exist for a large scale repatriation process," he said.

Morjane said it was not possible currently to organise repatriation because the agency needs to ensure that the safety of the people was guaranteed. He said UNHCR would use the time now to organise provinces where it believes people would be going back to before they start repatriating the people. Morjane said the political goodwill shown now should be followed with effective reconciliation. He said once that was done it would be a clear confirmation by the Angolan government to respect the repatriation process.

Morjane said of the 260.000 refugees at Nangweshi refugee camp which he visited on Saturday, the message was that they wanted to go home. "The message is that they want to go home. They want to see a solid peace and an atmosphere of reconciliation," he said. Morjane said Nangweshi camp leader said the refugees' hopes have in the past been raised and then dashed again. He said by next month, the World Food Programme will start giving the refugees full food rations which were halved. (THE POST)

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