Response Plan for Angola 2009
An estimated total of 54,000 Angolans were expelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in October 2009. By November the flow had reduced, with a small number continuing to arrive every day (50-100). This massive expulsion, at times characterised by violence, followed a large-scale expulsion of irregular Congolese migrants from the diamond rich areas in Angola’s northeast by the Government of Angola. The Angolan returnees arrived with next to nothing as they were given little or no notice of their expulsion; there are reports that their homes and household goods were ransacked. There are also large numbers of separated families, with spouses and children staying behind in the DRC.
The Government of Angola swiftly mobilised to receive the Angolans expelled from the DRC, including those who returning after the wave of expulsions. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Reinsertion (MINARS) took the lead in managing the response, coordinating with other line ministries, the provincial authorities and the Angolan Armed Forces the provision of emergency assistance. The assistance provided included temporary shelter, food and medical services. The Government also carried out a basic registration to gather initial information regarding identity, places of origin and family background. The Government initiated an expeditious transfer of those expelled to their places of origin which is almost completed except in Uige province. For planning purposes, all 54,000 returnees were considered affected people upon their arrival given the nature of their expulsion from the DRC and that they were not able, in the great majority of cases, to bring anything to Angola. Those returnees who do not have a final destination will be considered vulnerable until the harvest in March. In addition to humanitarian assistance provided to all returnees in receptionand transitcentres the UN will provide targeted humanitarian assistance, as requested by the Government, to returnees hosted in the permanent settlement in Zaire and in host communities with a high concentration of returnees in Uige.
These Angolans left the country mostly in four waves, in the early 1960s when the independence war began, in 1975/76 when the civil war broke out, in 1992 when the conflict resumed and in 1999 when the last large scale fighting took place in the north. The latest figures of arrivals per province according to the government are 38,647 (Zaire), 10,223 (Uige)and 2,638 (Cabinda). The government estimates that two thirds of the returnees are refugees.
The circumstances of the expulsion of Angolans were traumatic for all affected, but the refugees additionally endured a violation of their right to non refoulement. The reestablishment of the enjoyment of the Angolan citizenship for this population constitutes a way to restore the affected rights. This response plan will complement the action of the Government and allow the UN system and civil society to carry out effective protection monitoring, take necessary protection measures, address the individual registration and identification of all expelled Angolans as a means to restore their civil rights and facilitate the development of their socio-economic rights as well as reunite separated families.
The returnees were first accommodated in reception areas, established by the Government of Angola. They were registered by the Government and received basic assistance with the Angolan Armed Forces providing materials for accommodation, registration, logistics, medical needs, sanitation and transportation in the reception and transit centres. The Government provided food for all returnees and health services were established in all sites. At the request of the Government, the UN and humanitarian organisations, including the Angolan Red Cross, also provided relief items to cover the initial needs of affected populations in Zaire province. Those included non-food items, water and sanitation supplies and equipment, emergency medical kits, education materials and supplies, construction kits, tarpaulins and a truck. UNHCR also dispatched tents and blankets to Uige province.
The Government strategy has been to facilitate the movement of the returnees as quickly as possible to their areas of origin or of their ancestors. A massive logistics exercise was undertaken to transport the majority of the returnees using government transport supplemented by trucks of the Angolan Armed Forces. Of the 39,000 Angolans who stayed in reception and transit centres in Zaire province, only 1,000 remained by end November. In Zaire province, the government plans to establish a permanent settlement to accommodate those returnees with no final destination whereas in Uige, people with no final destination will be integrated into local communities.
Returnees in the Zaire permanent settlement will receive land from the Government for cultivation and the construction of a house. The UN intends to provide support in emergency shelter, rehabilitation of bathrooms, recreational facilities for community integration, administrative structures, and lighting to provide security for vulnerable individuals, and water, sanitation and hygiene. In Uige province, assistance will be targeted to host communities with a high concentration of returnees.
For returnees in both provinces this plan envisions the teaching of basic Portuguese skills to children and adults until the start of the school year in February. The UN will also assist in improving the registration of the returnees to facilitate the re-acquisition of vital documents to ensure that the people who have returned enjoy all their rights as Angolan citizens. In addition, this registration will assist in family tracing, identification of vulnerable individuals, civil document issuance, and skills identification and professional profiling of the affected population.
Since this massive expulsion, the Government has requested the re-activation of the tripartite mechanism to facilitate the organised repatriation of Angolan refugees still living in the region estimated at fewer than 100,000 with the largest number in DRC (60,000) and Zambia (25,000). While this plan does not cover the organised repatriation, the work in capacity building in terms of registration and the supplies that were not used in this emergency may serve as part of the international community support to the Government of Angola’s repatriation and be scaled up as necessary.
This response plan covers six months, from 1 October 2009 to 31 March 2010, and includes a requirement of US$5.2 million. The focus of the response plan is provision of technical assistance to the Government and targeted provision of humanitarian assistance in gap sectors, jointly identified with the Government, in reception and transit centres as well as areas of resettlement of people with no final destination and communities with a high number of returnees. These include support in non-food items, emergency shelter, civil documentation, identification of skills, identification of vulnerability through improved registration, information campaign about rights of those who have returned, support to handle cases relating to the expulsion, temporary bolstering of health services to deal with increased caseload, provision of Portuguese language skills for children and adults for two months, basic water, sanitation and hygiene in reception and transit centres and technical assistance to the Government to reintegrate the returnees.
Reception centres are located closest to the border, where those expelled or who had returned from the DRC were accommodated temporarily after entering the country until departure to a final destination would be organised.
Transit centres are more established sites, where conditions allow a stay of more than a few days until trucks or buses are ready to transport returnees to a final destination.