IOM is appealing for funding to help the Organization to assist tens of thousands of Angolan refugees to return home from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
More than 52,000 Angolan refugees in the two countries are to be helped by IOM and partners since the voluntary repatriation operation was resumed in late June 2011 after a break of four years.
In July 2011, IOM and UNHCR jointly appealed for USD 21 million to help Angolan refugees return home from their countries of asylum. To date IOM has received only about USD 2 million for logistics.
IOM is appealing for additional donor support in order to sustain the operation for a safe and dignified return of the former Angolan Refugees, and facilitate their smooth reintegration process.
A large scale voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees from the two countries was stopped in 2007 because of logistical challenges and diminishing numbers of refugees wanting to return. More than 400,000 Angolan refugees had already returned home between 2002, when the peace agreement was signed, and 2007.
Repatriations from the DRC began earlier this month when 861 refugees were helped to return home to Angola. They were transported by IOM on three truck convoys which left the western regions of the DRC. Today another convoy carrying 291 refugees is leaving for Moxico Province.
The majority of the Angolan refugees in the DRC are concentrated in the western border regions of the country. They had fled their homes in the Provinces of Zaire, Moxico and Uige in Northern Angola during the 27-year civil conflict.
More than 43,000 Angolan refugees in DRC have asked to be assisted to return home.
IOM will continue to provide transport assistance for the remainder of the year and throughout 2012. Each week the Organization will help 780 refugees to return to the northern Angolan Province of Zaire and another 500 refugees to return to Moxico Province.
From early next year an additional 400 refugees will be assisted to return home to Uige Province each week.
In Zambia, where 8,925 out of a total of 17, 267 Angolan refugees in the country have said they wanted to return home, IOM has so far assisted 2,060 persons to return home. Since early November, the refugees were transported aboard 47 flights chartered by IOM from the Zambian Air Force.
The refugees comprise men, women and children, some of whom were born in Zambia and who have never seen their country.
The Angolan authorities have expressed support for the return and the re-integration of their citizens and said the returnees will be provided with assistance such as housing, micro credit, vocational training and other reintegration projects that will help them become self-sufficient. The re-integration programme is supported by IOM and the UNHCR.
According to UNHCR an estimated 137,918 Angolan refugees remain in the DRC, the Republic of Congo, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.