Essed - Chapter 02
The Refugee Problem and Repatriation
Repatriation is often presented as the optimum durable solution to the
refugee problem in Africa and it is taken for granted that the return of
peace to a country will entail the return of the refugees who fled the war.
This chapter questions this assumption by looking at the movement of
self-settled refugees from Zambia to Angola as a process of migration
rather than the end of the refugee cycle.
Before considering voluntary repatriation as a solution, it is worth considering
in greater detail the nature of the refugee problem it is expected
to solve. It has three aspects that can be clearly identified. Firstly, at the
start of any refugee emergency is a humanitarian problem as refugees flee
their homes, families are separated and they arrive in a neighbouring
country exhausted and with very few possessions. Aid operations may be
essential to help refugees through these critical times. After the crisis
when refugees have been able either to settle temporarily among local
communities or in settlements, it is still assumed that there is chronic suffering
caused by exile.