Anastacio Sasembele – Luanda, Angola
The Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples of the Episcopal Conference of Angola, Sao Tome and Principe (CEAST), over the weekend, renewed its call for the integration, into Angolan social life, of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees.
See the face of Jesus in IDPs and refugees
Sister Neide Lamperti, Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission at CEAST made a passionate appeal to the Angolan government to take the lead in promoting initiatives of social integration not only of refugees but also of the country’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The Commission believes that the Angolan government can do more towards the integration of peoples. Displaced persons and refugees should be allowed to contribute to wider Angolan society, the Commission insists.
“It is necessary to promote the inclusion of Internally Displaced Persons in ecclesial and social communities as well as in the public services. Many IDPs and refugees are living precarious situations of vulnerability and like everyone else need food, housing, education and health facilities,” said Sr. Lamperti.
Sr. Lamperti has urged Angolans to see the face of Jesus among IDPs and refugees.
The results of civil war and regional conflicts
Twenty-five years of civil conflict, In Angola, generated many Angolan refugees who fled the violence. Others fled to other parts of the country and became Internally Displaced Persons. With the war over, the returned refugees have only added pressure to the resettlement efforts.
Angola is also a recipient of refugees. The armed conflicts in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have led to DRC refugees seeking shelter in Angola. According to UNCHR, in 2017 alone, as many as 100 000 Congolese fled to neighbouring countries.
The situation of DRC migrants in Angola’s Lunda Norte Province is complicated. The Angolan government accuses DRC migrants of illegal Diamond mining and smuggling. During the 2018 month-long “Operation Transparency,” Angola expelled 400 000 refugees and migrants back to the DRC. This prompted pleas from Human Rights Watch for the government to distinguish between irregular migrants and genuine refugees.