Since 2001, Statoil and UNHCR have cooperated on a series of field activities to build peace, advance human rights and secure durable solutions for the world’s refugees. The work ranges from education for IDPs in Azerbaijan, rehabilitation of schools and health infrastructure in post-conflict Angola, to the production of an e-learning tool promoting integration of refugee school children throughout the Baltic/Nordic region.
The training project in the remote province of eastern Angola, started by UNHCR with funds provided by Norway’s Statoil oil company, reflects the shift in the priorities of the UN refugee agency this year. It is a step on from the voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees over the previous three years which was just the first step in their return to normal life.
When a peace agreement was signed in 2002 to end the 27 years of war, there were an estimated 457,000 Angolans living as refugees outside the country’s borders. Since then more than 360,000 are estimated to have come home, including 123,000 brought back by UNHCR, 89,000 who returned on their own but received UNHCR assistance on arrival, and a further 149,000 who repatriated without any UN help.
Now the focus is on reintegrating these people into Angola – and ensuring that the process will continue after UNHCR’s role is over. In an era of shrinking donor interest in Angola that means UNHCR must target its resources carefully – using them to start projects that will become self-sufficient, provide a model for other organisations and attract funding from other sources.