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Angola: Millions Of Displaced People And Refugees Begin To Return Home - 2003-02-21

After more than twenty years of civil war, Angola is now trying to rebuild. But there’s much work to be done: the country’s infrastructure is in a shambles, with roads and bridges destroyed and many areas littered with landmines. Despite that, refugees and internally displaced people are beginning to return home with the help of the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR.

The agency’s regional coordinator for Angola’s repatriation operation, Kallu Kalumiya, says about one half million Angolans fled the country during the conflict, crossing the border into the DRC, Zambia, Namibia and the Republic of Congo. About 120 thousand have returned on their own following last year’s cease-fire. He says in addition, there is a huge number of IDP’s, internally displaced persons, “amounting to nearly four million.”

Mr. Kalumiya says the task of repatriation “is an enormous one.” He says, “The main challenge is how do we sustain this return?” Mr. Kalumiya says it will require “substantial international inputs” or international assistance. What’s more, there are about 80 thousand former combatants, who need to be resettled into communities to prevent them from turning to banditry to survive. They are returning with their families, and together number about 450 thousand.

During a visit to Washington, Mr. Kalumiya spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.

Click the above links to download or listen to De Capua interview with Mr. Kalumiya.