The United Nations has promised further aid to the more than two hundred and twenty thousand refugees who have fled to Angola from Zaire and South West Africa/(Namibia).
The United Nations has promised further aid to the more than two hundred and twenty thousand refugees who have fled to Angola from Zaire and South West Africa/(Namibia). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Poul Hartling, recently completed a five-day visit to Angola, which ended on Tuesday (August 29).
SYNOPSIS: The High Commissioner was invited to visit Angola by President Agostinho Neto, who had granted asylum to the refugees from Zaire and Namibia. Mr. Hartling was the highest ranking U.N. official to visit Angola since the country won independence from Portugal in 1975.
One of the first duties Mr. Hartling carried out was a visit to Lubango - the provincial capital of the southern Angolan province of Huila. Hero, are some thirty thousand refugees who crossed the border from neighbouring Namibia.
Refugees at one of the camps, Ongulumbashe, thanked Mr. Hartling for the aid received so far, and expressed their appreciation with songs and dances.
Most of the refugees have fled Namibia because of the conflict between South African forces and members of the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO). Namibia is due to become independent on December 31st this year, and Mr. Hartling said he hoped many of the refugees would be able to return to their homeland after independence.
Mr. Hartling also visited the eastern Angolan province of Mexico, where many of the two hundred thousand refugees from Zaire's Shaba province have been given asylum. In this camp, near the provincial capital, Luena, the atmosphere was one of hope. Recently relations between Angola and Zaire have improved considerably and there is a possibility that many refugees may soon be repatriated.
Since the Angolan Civil War in 1975, Zaire has supported pro-Western groups in Angola which are fighting President Movement (MPLA). Angola then provided a haven for the Shaba province rebels responsible for the offensive against Zaire in May this year. The Shaba province refugees now wish to return home, and Mr. Hartling promised the United Nations would do all it could for them.