Angola: JRS Holds Debate on Refugee Situation
14 August 2018

JRS Angola invited partners to a debate on the refugee situation.

Luanda, 10 August 2018—Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) held a debate on "The situation of refugees in Angola" with the aim of promoting dialogue amongst partners and human rights defenders in civil society. Bringing together actors in this space can build stronger solutions to the barriers refugees and asylum seekers face in Angola.

The opening session was chaired by the National Director of JRS, Dr. Luamonazo Mário Lopes Panda, with the participation of Government Officials, United Nations Agencies, Diplomatic Corps, Justice, Peace and Democracy Association (AJPD), Pro Bono Association Angola, Caritas, Mosaiko, Omunga, Cepami, Ceast, Free Hands and Representatives of the Refugee Community in Angola. Thirty-three people participated.

Dr. Panda began by presenting JRS’ mission to accompany, serve, and protect “all refugees who come to our borders and ask for our support". He also clearly expressed the needs and injustices he sees in Angola, “refugees are confronted with the lack/expiration of documentation, non-observance of some rights as embodied in the constitution, and other national and supranational legal norms." He framed the debate as a means to promote dialogue around finding the best solutions to solve these problems which we, and the populations we serve, confront on a daily basis.

The representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Angola, Dr. Philippa Candler, expanded the scope of the conversation to recognize the needs of refugees beyond legal protection alone. "Concerns such as water, food, health, education, shelter, health and protection of refugees in general far outweigh our ability to respond with sufficient resources in a timely manner", she said. She emphasized the urgency of finding additional resources to support the more than 35 thousand refugees in Angola, of which 77 percent are women and children. A shortage of resources can translate into a dramatic situation, especially for the most vulnerable who still need the assistance and social protection.

The group also discussed some logistical issues around documentation with regards to the National Council for Refugees (CNR) and the Center for the Reception and Reintegration of the Refugee in Angola (CARRA).  Dr. Daniel Sukuakueche, JRS lawyer, explained the specifics of current legislation around documentation. During his presentation, he stressed the severity of violating the right to documentation, which is the basis of the deprivation of many other rights enshrined in the Angolan National Constitution.

In the end, participants recommended that a human rights-based approach be developed to respond to the growing migratory trends in Angola. Moving forward, the group will focus on improving the registration of asylum seekers, designing strategies for improving the management of border areas, and implementing mechanisms that promote the functionality of the CNR and CARRA. They will aim to hold this type of debate on an annual basis to improve understanding of the situation of refugees and asylum seekers in Angola and to find the best solutions for the problems identified.


Humberto Costa

Communication Officer, JRS Angola

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