- Angolan refugees in Zambia’s Western Province have resisted voluntary repatriation despite their country's political stability and the on-going national economic reconstruction, the UN refugees agency report has revealed.
According to the voluntary repatriation intention survey conducted by United Nations High Commission for Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Zambian government at Mayukwayukwa Refugee Settlement, results showed that only 251 had expressed interest to repatriate out of the 10,000 in the camps.
UNHCR's representative in Zambia, James Lynch, said there is little interest among the Angolan refugees in the settlement to repatriate. “I explained to them that the assisted spontaneous return programme was time-bound, so they should seize this opportunity before it ends," the UNHCR official said.
The survey which was carried out early this year was to ascertain the number of Angolan refugees willing to repatriate and adequately mobilise and allocate resources in readiness for the exercise, which is expected to begin on 1 May 2009.
Angolan ambassador to Zambia, Pedro de Morais Neto, said because of the recent positive political and economic developments taking place in Angola, there was a need for his compatriots to consider returning home to be part of the country's development.
According to the report, the refugees have cited many reasons for not wanting to repatriate, among them, having lived in Zambia for a long time, being born there, marriage to Zambians, need for children to complete education and more self-reliance opportunities in Zambia.
At the end of February 2009, Zambia hosted a total of 27,115 Angolans, which included those in the two settlements of Meheba and Mayukwayukwa, some living in urban areas and those that are self-settled.
The Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement was established in 1966 and some of the refugees have been in the settlement since then.
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