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Last Season Repatriation of Angolans From Zambia

UN Refugee Agency Starts Last Season of Repatriation of Angolans From Zambia

New York, May 11 2005 4:00PM

The United Nations refugee agency today started its last season of repatriating Angolans from Zambia, which has hosted Angolan refugees for more than three decades.

"This is a very happy day for all of us," Ahmed Said Farah of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said at yesterday's farewell ceremony for a 75-person convoy leaving the Meheba refugee settlement in north-western Solwezi district for Angola's Moxico province.

"It is of particular significance as we come to say our happy and last goodbyes to our colleagues. Happy goodbyes because our friends are going back home to restart their lives and gladly resurrect their once shattered dreams in their country of origin."

He commended the Angolan refugees for contributing significantly to Zambia's economy, mainly through agriculture, but added, "You know that there is nothing better than going back home, after long years in exile, to join your brothers and sisters and help in the reconstruction process in your home country."

Most of the refugees were still harvesting their crops in the agricultural settlement, but the repatriation momentum was expected to pick up when the harvest ended. The simultaneous convoy movements from all the camps and settlements would greatly increase the number of refugees repatriating in weekly convoys and airlifts, UNHCR said.

The refugee agency said it plans to assist some 53,000 Angolan returnees by the time the repatriation movement is completed at the end of this year.

More than 1,500 Angolan refugees have gone home from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Namibia, it said. About 310,000 people have returned to Angola since 2002, some 175,000 of them with UNHCR help.

ENDS

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