October 23, 2002

Angola Refugees Troop Back Home

About five thousand refugees from Meheba refugee camp in Solwezi (Zambia) have gone back to Angola following the signing of the peace accord in that country in September. Zambian North-Western Province Permanent Secretary Gabriel Namulambe said in an interview in Solwezi that some refugees had started trekking back to their country. "What we have seen is that some refugees have started going back to Angola. So far about 5,000 have crossed over to their country. They started going back when they heard the news that the peace accord had been signed," he said. Mr Namulambe said Government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have put in place a programme to repatriate some refugees beginning next year. "There is a programme of repatriating some of the refugees by next year but some of them can't wait," he said.

Some refugees were impatient and had started going back to their native country after hearing that peace had returned to the country which had been at war for years. Mr Namulambe said that the security situation at the borders was calm despite the movement of refugees in and out of Zambia. He, however, added that although some refugees were going back to Angola, some were still coming in from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Maheba has a population of about 58,000 refugees mostly women and children. (THE TIMES OF ZAMBIA)

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