from PEDRO AGOSTO in Luanda, Angola
LUANDA, (CAJ News) – SOME 88 individuals have benefitted from the resumed expatriation of Congolese refugees from Angola.
This is the first repatriation after the exercise had been halted during the COVID-19 in 2020.
It kickstarts a process that will see the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees UNHCR) transport over 600 Congolese refugees, who have expressed willingness to be repatriated.
“More are likely to show interest with the resumption of the operation,” said UNHCR spokesperson, Boris Cheshirkov.
The first convoy of the Congolese refugees departed from the Lôvua settlement in northern Angola on Tuesday morning (today) towards the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The convoy is expected to arrive in the DRC on Wednesday (tomorrow).
UNHCR, together with the governments of Angola and the DRC, in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and various partners, are organizing the repatriations.
Refugees traveled in IOM trucks towards the border of Chicolondo, where they were to stay in a transit centre for the night before crossing the border.
Other convoys are scheduled to travel through the Chissanda border in the coming weeks.
The refugees will head to various destinations in western DRC including Kasai, Kasai Central, Kwilu, Sankuru, Lomami, Lualaba and Kinshasa, the capital.
Many fled the ethnic conflict in DRC’s Ksai region in 2017.
Over 35 000 people crossed the border to find safety in Angola at that time.
Lôvua hosts some 7 000 refugees after some returned before COVID-19 halted repatriations.
UNHCR assists some 57 000 refugees and asylum seekers in Angola.
This year, the operation has received US$10,3 million of the $29,8 million needed.
– CAJ News