Dundo — Exactly two years ago (2017), the Republic of Angola reached out to 35,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), welcomed in Lunda Norte province, due to the extreme and widespread violence caused by political tensions in their country.
It was undoubtedly the largest migratory movement of DRC citizens towards Angola, according to official data from the authorities of both countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The entry into Angolan territory represented the rekindling of hope and the beginning of a new dream that, far from violence, the lives of refugees would be less harsh.
The resettlement required extra effort from the Angolan authorities, who unreservedly welcomed 23,668 people from DRC in the Lóvua Refugee Camp.
Another 11,316 were distributed to various local communities under UNHCR supervision.
In 2018, the first spontaneous voluntary repatriation took place, with more than eight thousand refugees returning with their own means to their country of origin.
On Angolan soil another 23,686 refugees continued, awaiting the creation of conditions for their return to the DRC, with UNHCR's assurances that, from next September, the homecoming would be a reality.
Everything seemed under the control of UNHCR and the Angolan authorities, despite complaints from refugees that basic social conditions in the countryside were deteriorating.
At dawn on 18 August, an unexpected decision contradicted the voluntary repatriation program and changed the routine at Lóvua Refugee Camp.
A total of 18,800 refugees, out of 23,684, unilaterally decided to abandon the Lóvua Center, located 90 kilometers from the city of Dundo.
In order not to miss the essentials, the Angolan Government is planning, for the next few days, the availability of 16 more trucks from the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), to allow the safe and peaceful repatriation of refugees.
In order to follow the process and create new strategies, a ministerial delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo is expected in the coming hours to hear about the efforts made by the Angolan authorities and the UNHCR.