Making the repatriation of Congolese refugees humane

01.August

August 01, 2022

A voluntary repatriation program for Congolese refugees returning home from Angola has continued after being halted for two years due to COVID-19. In 2017, more than 35,000 citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo sought refuge in Angola after political and ethnic events. violence broke out in the Kasai region of the country. This conflict is one of the endemic insecurities that have so far led to the internal displacement of some 5.9 million people.

As peace and normality resume in the restless area, more than 600 Congolese refugees have expressed their willingness to return home, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

When they return home, they receive repatriation assistance, which includes money to help them settle. But the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo remains volatile and pockets of violence continue to erupt.

While citizens are enjoying the flowing peace, neighboring countries including Tanzania and Angola should have an open door policy to welcome refugees who are the first victims of this conflict. Even as the repatriation program continues and more Congolese refugees express interest in returning home, the process should be voluntary and should not put pressure on those who have reason not to. The majority of refugees have been emotionally and mentally scarred after witnessing relatives and loved ones macheted to death, sexually assaulted and mutilated. Such trauma takes time to heal.

Governments and development partners should therefore have a plan to provide these refugees with the support they need and ensure that their return home is as smooth and self-explanatory as possible.

picture by Sam Mann

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