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Refugee camp closes as Angolans go home

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NAIROBI, 1 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on Tuesday the repatriation of the last 263 Angolans in the refugee camp at Kisenge in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s Katanga Province, ending a refugee programme that had run for more than 20 years.

The civil war in Angola ended in 2002 after 27 years of fighting.

"About 600 Angolan refugees chose to stay in the Kisenge area," Jens Hesemann, UNHCR's external relations officer, said. He noted, however, that the agency's "assisted repatriation will come to an end".

An estimated 22,000 Angolans remained in refugee camps and settlements elsewhere in the DRC, Hesemann said, in addition to an estimated 72,000 Angolan refugees in the DRC "who have settled spontaneously".

"The Angolan voluntary repatriation programme will continue from several other refugee sites... from the provinces of Bandundu and Bas Congo bordering Angola's northern provinces and from Kinshasa," he added.

The repatriation of refugees at sites around the town of Ngidunga in Bas Congo ended in March 2005. UNHCR reports that since the start of its voluntary repatriation in June 2003, it has assisted in the return of about 42,000 Angolans.


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