United Nations, Aug 24 : As security has improved in the restive Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), some 8,500 refugees have left the Lóvua settlement in Angola’s north-east Lunda Norte province in the past week, hoping to cross the border and return home, according to the UN refugee agency.
More than 1,000 refugees have already crossed into DRC and many others are moving towards the border with DRC’s Kasai region.
Kasai province is recovering from deadly clashes between armed groups and DRC forces in 2017 that displaced some 1.4 million people from their homes. Around 37,000 refugees from the violence crossed into Angola.
This week’s spontaneous returns from northeastern Angola are linked with presidential elections and follow recent discussions between the visiting DRC officials and refugees, where refugees were briefed about improvements to the security situation in Kasai Provinces.
Until now, the Lóvua refugee settlement had been hosting more than 20,000 refugees. The Angolan Government has provided transport to some of those on the move, but others have left the settlement on their own. Many refugees are camping alongside the main roads in northeastern Angola – these include women and children.
While security has improved in the Kasai region in recent months, elsewhere in DR Congo insecurity continues to drive thousands from their homes in restive areas of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri provinces near the border with Uganda.(UNI)