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Voluntary repatriation of DRC refugees commences

Voluntary repatriation of DRC refugees commences

The voluntary repatriation of as many as 96 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) back to their country has commenced this week following a successful collaboration between the government of Namibia, and DRC, and facilitation through the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

This is the first group of some 200 refugees and asylum-seekers in Namibia who will be returning voluntarily to the DRC this year.

Intention surveys and individual reviews carried out by UNHCR have ensured that these repatriations are informed and voluntary, allowing refugees to return to their country of origin in safety and dignity.

“We are very grateful to the government of Namibia for its generosity in providing sanctuary to people fleeing violence, persecution, and human rights abuses and for supporting this group of Congolese refugees to safely go home,” said Monique Ekoko, UNHCR’s Representative for the Southern Africa Multi-Country Office in a statement.

Ekoko said, that while conflict continues to generate displacement and insecurity in the largely rural eastern provinces of DRC, this group of returning refugees will travel to urban locations in DRC’s capital Kinshasa, and the city of Lubumbashi assessed to be suitable for return. Returning refugees told UNHCR they were excited to restart their lives after years in exile and that they were happy to be returning home.

“Namibia is proud to provide a safe place for people seeking safety from conflict. Some of the families have been residing in Osire settlement for many years, and their dearest wish is to restart their lives again at home,” said Albert Kawana, Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security.

“I would like to thank the government of Namibia and UNHCR for taking care of Congolese refugees in the Osire settlement and ensuring their voluntary repatriation back home. We wish them a deep and warm welcoming back at home,” said DRC Ambassador to Namibia Mulum’ajirwa n’owabo Katoto.

In the DRC, UNHCR has worked hard to ensure that the returning families will be provided with cash assistance to cover immediate needs including transport and housing costs, in addition to working closely with DRC authorities to ensure livelihoods opportunities and education needs are addressed to help them restart their lives.

Namibia currently hosts 7261 refugees and asylum-seekers, of which 6263 are from the DRC. UNHCR expects to repatriate up to 200 Congolese refugees and asylum seekers from Namibia in 2023.


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