Namacunde — A group of 112 Angolan nationals who were refugees in Namibia for many years, arrived at Namacunde in southern Angola on Thursday afternoon.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative to Namibia, Dr Lawrence Oba Mgbangson, Commissioner of Refugees in Namibia, Nkrumah Mushelenga, and the Governor of the Ohangwena Region, Usko Nghaamwa, escorted the refugees to Namacunde.
The UNHCR handed US$200 (about N$1 651) to each adult refugee and US$100 (about N$825) to each child under the age of 18 at the departure of the refugees from Okakwa village in the Ohangwena Region, where they slept over on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The former refugees are expected to use the money in starting their new lives upon returning to their country of origin.
The returnees will find temporary accommodation at a transit camp on the outskirts of Namacunde and to be provided with Angolan identification documents (IDs), before leaving the camp for destinations of their choice within Angola.
Addressing the returnees, the Vice-Governor of Angola's Cunene Province, Jeronimo Haleinge, pointed out that the returnees would be properly prepared before rejoining the rest of the Angolan citizenry.
"Every single Angolan citizen, irrespective of his/her social status, has a responsibility to build the country and to help the country's socio-economic development to flourish," Haleinge told the returnees.
He also explained that the civil war that had been raging in the country for some 30 years has ended, and the Angolan government is currently "making all efforts" to ensure that there is economic growth in the whole country.
"We have only 10 years of peace now. Therefore, we could not do everything in that time," Haleinge said, adding that difficulties currently faced by the Angolan nation have to be addressed with the participation of all citizens.
The Angolan authorities will provide the returnees with basic needs before joining the rest of the population, and will ensure that children are enrolled at schools in Angola soon.
"But we are not promising houses to each of you," said the Angolan vice-governor of the Cunene Province.
He also commended the UNHCR and the Namibian government for providing the care and support needed by the returnees during their stay in Namibia as refugees.
Mgbangson described the returnees as law-abiding citizens, who respected the Namibian laws during their stay in the country.
"The UNHCR is very much happy and appreciates that the governments of the two countries accepted the repatriation of a total of 3 200 Angolan refugees, who have thus far registered for the UNHCR-organised voluntary repatriation from Namibia before the 30th of June," he noted.
Less than 5 000 refugees from Angola are said to have been in Namibia recently, after the initial repatriation of some 15 000 between 2002 and 2007.