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UN to send home 12,000 Angolan refugees from Zambia

Written by: Staff
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LUSAKA, Mar 31 (Reuters) The United Nations refugee agency plans in 2006 to repatriate 12,000 Angolan refugees who fled to Zambia to escape a 27-year civil war in the former Portuguese colony, a UN official today said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with the International Organisation for Migration, will spend 4.7 million dollars on the repatriation plan, according to UNHCR spokesman Kelvin Shimo. It was suspended last year due to financial constraints and fierce opposition from some refugees.

Nearly 250,000 Angolans found haven in Zambia after civil war broke out in the 1970s between government forces and the UNITA rebel movement. The conflict ended in 2002 after UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed by government forces.

Shimo said 63,000 Angolans had returned home with the help of aid agencies and Zambian authorities since 2003 when a voluntary repatriation programme started.

But some of the refugees have declined to return, settling in the western part of Zambia, officials said.

REUTERS SY RAI1858

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