Long after decades of civil war have come to an end in Angola and Liberia, the United Nations announced refugees of those countries will no longer be considered refugees.
Spokesman says U.N. "working with governments of origin:" On Friday, United Nations Refugee Agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said people who fled those two countries were no longer refugees and that the organization would work with host and origin governments "to find solutions for those refugees who wish either to return home or to remain in their host countries due to strong ties there," he said.
Liberians registering to return home: A United Nations news release noted the two civil wars in Liberia that took place from 1989 to 2003 killed 250,000 people and left 750,000 people homeless. UNHCR says it repatriated 135,000 people since 2004. Another 16,641 are applying to return home, but another 12,300 would prefer to stay where they are now.
Angolan civil war refugees date from 1965: The refugee status change also affects Angolans who fled the country during the 1965-1975 independence war from Portugal that ended in a civil war. It ended in 2002, 37 years after the initial start of hostilities. UNHCR says 23,300 Angolans began returning home as of last year. Another 26,000 plan to return. But in neighboring countries, 51,000 people will stay in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 10,000 Angolans will be permitted to stay in Zambia.
Refugees begin heading home: AFP reported Monday some Angolans were starting to head home and noted the country was the second largest oil producing country in Africa after Nigeria. An 8 percent economic growth forecast for this year, reconstruction efforts already underway, and the Angolan government's plan to repatriate former refugees has encouraged the end to refugee status for the Portuguese-speaking nation.
Refugees mostly located in four countries: A map of refugees in Africa provided by UNHCR shows the bulk of refugees, including returnees, internally displaced people and asylum seekers, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia, with smaller numbers reported in Ivory Coast, Chad, Kenya, and Uganda.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.