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Belarus: UN experts urge invest. of human rights

UN-backed studies to help Angola reintegrate hundreds of thousands of returnees

Roads, health clinics and Portuguese language courses are among the priority needs identified by a study conducted by the Government of Angola and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) to ensure that the country’s development plans include reintegrating the nearly half a million people who fled during 27 years of civil war.

"This is an example of the close cooperation between the government, at the central and provincial levels, and the United Nations in Angola and I am confident that this will help in formulating the appropriate projects," Dario Carminati, the UNHCR representative in Angola said of the study, which was unveiled yesterday in the capital, Luanda, and surveys the existing resources and needs of seven municipalities with the highest returnee concentration.

Since the peace agreement of 2002, more than 360,000 refugees are estimated to have returned to the country, including 123,000 brought by UNHCR, 89,000 who came on their own but received UNHCR assistance on arrival and a further 149,000 who repatriated without any UN help.

The agency said in areas destroyed and depopulated by the war, it is essential to have a detailed profile of the local capabilities and needs in order to set priorities for reconstruction. In the municipality of Luau, for example, which was once the capital of Moxico province near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 91 per cent of the population are former refugees.

"We have enough material, the fundamental elements, which can serve as a model for our planning," João Baptista Kussumua, Angolan Minister of Assistance and Social Integration, yesterday told representatives of the provinces and municipalities profiled, who had flown to Luanda for the release of the study.

In Bundas municipality, an isolated region near the border with Zambia where returnees make up 90 per cent of the population, reconstruction of the national road linking it to the provincial capital was identified in the study as a priority. The road is now a dirt track, bridges have been destroyed and de-mining of the margins will likely continue for years.

There was also a need for health clinics in all parts of the municipality and more lessons in speaking Portuguese, which many refugees returning from Zambia never learned while growing up in their English-speaking country of asylum.

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