26 August 2014 – Tens of thousands of Angolans living in the Democratic Republic of Congo are set to return home, some after more than 50 years in exile.
The first Angolans who sought new lives in the DR Congo were fleeing from Angola’s 1961-1975 war of independence against Portugal. Gaining independence in 1975, civil war broke out between the rival political parties: Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the rebel group Unita.
27 years of civil war claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced some 4 million people, including 550,000 who became refugees. Most Angolans fled to neighboring countries such as DR Congo. Since the end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002, about 76,000 Angolans have returned home with the help of UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation programme as the country has regained stability.
This week the UNHCR, in partnership with the DR Congo and Angola government, launched its third and final repatriation programme. 29,000 Angolans are expected to return to their homeland. On Tuesday the first group of refugees, 500 people, left Kinshasa by train to return back to their motherland, Angola.
"How do you feel today?"
"I feel very well"
"Are you nervous to go back to Angola after so many years?"
"Not at all. The joy takes away the nerves."
"What is the first thing you will do when you are back in Angola?"
"I will make contacts to restart my career."
After 30 as a refugee in DRC, 66-year-old Théophile Kaduliekois is going home.
"I am so moved to go back that I can't stop my tears. It is very strong. I will dance once we arrive at the border."
60-year-old Maria Mafuta is returning home this week to Angola after being a refugee in DRC.
Did you know…?
For three years now, Portuguese migrants have been fleeing the crisis in their home country to try their fortune in the former African colony. Angola’s economic growth is expected to reach 7,9 % in 2014, and the country hosts over 120 000 Portuguese migrants.
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