The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadruddin Aga Khan, has recently visited two refugee settlement for victims of the struggle between Portuguese Government Forces and anti-Portuguese movements in Angela and Guinea-Bissau.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadruddin Aga Khan, has recently visited two refugee settlement for victims of the struggle between Portuguese Government Forces and anti-Portuguese movements in Angela and Guinea-Bissau. One settlement was at Ziguincher in southern Senegal and the other at Meheba in northern Zambia.
There are 80,000 refugees from Guinea-Bissau living near the Casamance River in southern Senegal. Although the United Nations has agreed to recognize Guinea-Bissau as a sovereign state independent from Portugal, it is still not safe for these refugees to return to their homes. Most of them are relatives of living or dead members of the African Party for the independence of Guinea-Bissau and the Capa Verde Islands (P.A.I.G.C.) or are victims of the war between the Portuguese government forces and the P.A.I.G.C.
During his visit Sadruddin Aga Khan opened a boarding school for 250 refuges students near Ziguinchor. It cost 200,00 dollars to construct. He watched some dancers who held aloft cardboard models of Portuguese aircraft had talked to some students and teachers - among them the widow of assassinated P.A.I.G.C. leader, Amilcar Cabral.
Prince Sadruddin said in his opening speech that history proved beyond doubt that colonial territories would be freed, but he later stressed to an interviewer that United Nations id to refugees was given on strictly humanitarian grounds and had nothing to do with politics. He stressed that the UN was not helping anti-Portuguese movements.
The High Commissioner has also recently visited a refugee settlement in Meheba, northern Zambia, for Angolans who have had to flee their country as a result of the war between Portuguese government troops and movements dedicated to ending Portuguese rule. There are approximately seven and a half thousand refugees at Meheba. There are well over half a million Angolan refugees in Africa.
Refugees at Meheba are given 10-acre plots of land, in the hope that they will become self-sufficient. Although they had been receiving food through the World Food Programme, these supplies were being gradually phased out about the time of the Commissioner's visit in January. Some refugees disagreed strongly with this decision because they felt their harvest had been damaged by low rainfall.
Despite these problems, Meheba is well on the way to becoming a self-supporting community. Some refugees work in the fields, some make bricks and construct homes in newly cleared areas, other are engaged in small-scale industries such as bucket-making.