By Mr.Maxwell Nkole( Permanent Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs)
1. Since the end of the civil war in Angola in April 2002, over 180,000 Angolan refugees have voluntarily and safely returned to and reintegrated in their country of origin. Today, only some 23,000 Angolan refugees remain registered in Zambia.
2. In light of the fundamental changes that have taken place in Angola since the end of the civil war, it is considered that those Angolan refugees remaining in Zambia who were granted refugee status on account of the civil war in Angola and the war of independence that preceded it should now be able to reclaim the national protection of their country of origin. Taking into consideration the announcement and subsequent recommendations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Government of the Republic of Zambia hereby declares, pursuant to Article 1C(5) and (6) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Article I(4)(e) of the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (conventions to which Zambia is party), that the refugee status of Angolan refugees in Zambia who fled Angola as a result of the armed conflicts between 1961 and 2002 will cease as of 30th June 2012.
3. The Government of the Republic of Zambia will work closely with UNHCR to give effect to the cessation of refugee status for Angolan refugees in keeping with the relevant principles and procedures of international refugee law. In this regard, the Government of the Republic of Zambia will collaborate closely with the Executive of the Republic of Angola, UNHCR and other relevant partners to proactively pursue all feasible measures to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of affected Angolan refugees to their home country in safety and dignity prior to the effective date of cessation of refugee status.
4. The status of Angolan refugees who would not have availed themselves for repatriation and continue to live in Zambia after 30th June, 2012, will be regulated under the immigration law.
1. What is cessation?
Refugee status is not permanent. It is intended to protect people who risk harm in their home country. When conditions in the home country improve fundamentally, refugee status comes to an end. This is called cessation.
The cessation clauses are part of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1969 OAU Convention on Refugees and are recognized and accepted by States that are a party to these Conventions, including Angola and Zambia.
2. When does cessation come into effect for Angolan refugees?
Cessation of refugee status for Angolans will come into effect on 30 June 2012.
3. Why is cessation being invoked for Angolan refugees?
Angolans were generally granted refugee status for reasons tied to the war of independence in Angola, from 1961 to 1975, and the Angolan civil war, from 1975 to 2002. They fled abroad because they feared harm from the armed conflicts that were taking place.
Cessation is being invoked because the situation in Angola has fundamentally changed. Peace and stability have come back to Angola, with most Angolan refugees already having returned home.
4. What exactly does cessation mean for Angolan refugees?
On 1 July 2012, you will not be a refugee anymore. Your legal status and right to remain as a refugee in Zambia will come to an end.
5. When do I have to decide about return?
Angolan refugees in Mayukwayukwa and Meheba have until 30 April 2012 to register for repatriation. UNHCR and the governments of Zambia and Angola will provide return assistance to those who register before this date and leave by 30 June 2012. If you wait longer, you may not receive any return assistance and your refugee status will end on 30 June 2012.
UNHCR and the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees are currently registering individuals for repatriation through the existing registration mechanisms.
Kindly note that this registration has been going on since January 2012.
Spontaneously settled refugees are advised to immediately contact the nearest Immigration Office to register for voluntary repatriation and receive the Voluntary Repatriation Form (VRF), before 30 June 2012. Please bring all documents proving your and your family members’ identity and status as refugees in Zambia.
6. What will happen if I choose to repatriate?
UNHCR is working with the authorities in Zambia and Angola on return arrangements. Upon arrival in Angola, you will receive national documentation and a return package to facilitate your reintegration.
7. What will happen if I do not register for Voluntary Repatriation?
Should you not have repatriated by 30 June 2012, your status will be regulated under the immigration law of Zambia.