Angolan refugees return to unsure future

2012-06-26 11:39
Namacunde - Thousands of Angolan refugees are trekking home hoping for a new start in life a decade after the end of brutal wars that drove them to neighbouring countries.

On June 30 their refugee status expires so many are returning to Angola, but they face an uncertain future in a country plagued by poverty despite its booming oil-rich economy.

"We fled the country in 1992 to avoid the battles and we went to Namibia where we had a good life," said Evarista Celestina after she arrived at the Namacunde reception camp 10km from the border.

"But our status as refugees wasn't permanent so it's time to go back," said Celestina, although two of her children stayed in Namibia to finish their studies.

About 4 000 Angolans have lived at the Osire refugee centre in central Namibia under the protection of authorities and the United Nations.

Thousands more are returning for Angola's other neighbours Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They fled Angola over 40 tumultuous years of the country's history, which included a violent liberation war against colonial power Portugal (1961-1975) and a bloody civil war that started soon after independence (1975-2002).

Now 10 years after peace was secured, Angola has become Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria, with eight percent economic growth forecast for this year.

Plans for a new life


Reconstruction efforts and the Angolan authorities' commitment to repatriate their citizens prompted the decision to end the refugees' status.

About 14 000 Angolans registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which facilitates the returns, between the end of last year and this May, while 35 000 others said they wanted to return before the end of June.

Every week for the past month convoys with buses and police vehicles have brought a few hundred Angolans from Namibia to Namacunde.

They come with plans for a new life.

Alexandre Mote, 54, wants to a job and then reunite his family which has been scattered between Angola and Namibia.

"I'd like to find a job to have social security and be a dignified citizen. I also hear Angola's economy is growing very quickly, so I'd like to benefit from that," he said.

But the prospects for most are slim.

The UN children's agency Unicef estimates that 87% of the urban population lives in shacks.

For over a year Angolan authorities have crushed protests demanding change under the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Africa's second-longest serving leader with nearly 33 years in power.

Another uncertainty is the welcome the returnees will receive from local communities, which the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will address in two-year projects.

Disoriented and worried

"People are happy to see their country isn't at war anymore, but after all these years they return disoriented and worried about how their families will survive," said Castro Mawonson, 48, at the Namacunde camp.

After a welcome briefing, the former refugees are given food and allocated one of the 30 tents in the camp, which can house 400 people with ablution blocks, a medical post and communal kitchen.

Families can arrange identity documents at the centre, explained Tiberia Hamuse, provincial director of the social reintegration ministry.

"They also receive a reintegration kit with utensils and tools, and food to last a month," she said.

The UNHCR gives $200 to every adult and $100 for every child to help them resettle.

After a three-day orientation the IOM transports the newly-returned to their home province or the area where they want to resettle.

The prospect is daunting for some who are discovering their fatherland for the first time.

"I've never lived here and I don't know anything about Angola, so I've no idea how it will go," said an 18-year-old girl, Nanda.

Read more on:    angola  |  refugees  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.