Angola Refugees

Angola Refugees

The situation regarding Angola refugess is a complicated one for not only did many flee Angiola as refugees into neighbouring countries during three decades of civil war, but many stayed abroad, reluctant and fearful to return home but more recently more than twenty thousand refugees have also flooded into Angola from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, due to problems back home. In the second week of March 2017 alone, nearly 3,000 had entered Angola with 70 percent of those seeking refuge being women and children, many with severe wounds and burns who went on to die because of a lack of food, medicine and basic hygiene. In fact, some 36,000 people have crossed the border into Angola from the Kasai region of the DRC since March 2017.

Exploring the situation of Angolan's refugees first; the Angolan civil war left one and a half million dead with an estimated four million more displaced over its twenty seven year duration. An estimated 550,000 Angola refugees fled primarily to Zambia, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa with an entire generation grew up knowing nothing but conflict as the three rival factions in Angola raged against each other littering the countryside with landmines and massacring those who would not support them. In Zambia, whose government has a long history of welcoming refugees fleeing political and civil strife in other Sub-Saharan African countries, these refugees settled in camps such as the Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement (below) in that country's western province where they were allowed of land as subsistence farmers from where few seem interested in returning home.

Angola Refugee Camp

In fact a survey by the UNHCR in 2009 found that out of 10,000 Angola refugees there only 251 were interested in returning to Angola. On 30 June 2012, however, the Government of Zambia invoked the Cessation Clause and Angolan refugees lost their refugee status, compelling the repatriation of the refugees back to Angola. Many however remained having married Zambians or simply that they had had children there who saw themselves as Zambians and didn't want their education disrupted. Similarly in 2012, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ended the refugee status of Angola Refugees as part of a government plan to get refugees to return home. During this time 23,000 people returned and, by the end of 2016, South Africa was allowing Angola refugees, living in the country to apply for permanent residency status, for a limited time, ending the application process on the December 15th, 2016.

Some 25,300 Angola refugees still live in Zambia many years after the end of the conflict despite efforts by Zambia's government to urge them to return home, understandable given Zambia's own levels of poverty and the fact that Zambia is also providing shelter to refugees from the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda. In order to facilitate a return home UNHCR and the Angolan government offered 120UK for each adult and 60UK per child leaving refugees camps outside Angola with an additional promise by the Angolan government of land and materials to build homes on their arrival. Many of the refugees retured to Kwando Kubango Province in south-east Angola, one of Angola's already poorest areas where residents rely on subsistence farming as there is no viable industry.

Refugees from Angola

The situation in that area is already grim with illiteracy rates as high as 70% in a country placed 148th out of 189th in the HDI (Human Development Index) which is measured by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank based upon the life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and living standards. Although today the situation has stabilised, in 2020, 2,886 people from Angola fled the country and applied for asylum elsewhere with the destination countries including France, Brazil and Germany. Overall, 88 percent of the asylum applications have been rejected. The most successful have been the refugees in Mexico and in Spain. The video (below) tells the story of one girl who fled as a refugee to Zambia not knowing of the family she left behind.

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