Life as a refugee

Stepping up life-saving interventions in Angola as refugees flee violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since early April 2017, more than 30,000 people have arrived in Angola after fleeing violence in the neighboring Kasai region in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The refugees live in two temporary reception centres in the northern Angola. Among them, there are at least 13,000 children. UNICEF is stepping up life-saving interventions as they start their lives again.

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Refugees arrive at the Cacanda reception centre in Dundo, northern Angola, after being transported from the border. Since early April 2017, an average of 300–500 people arrive every day, after traveling on foot for days or even weeks. Some of these are children arriving without their families.

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With the arrival of almost every truck, there are frequent reunifications of families who had broken up when they fled their country. A father smiles after meeting with his children at the Cacanda reception centre.

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A woman cooks in the Mussungue reception centre for refugees in Dundo, northern Angola. With the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen in the future, families start their lives in these small temporary villages.

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One child cuts another’s hair in the Cacanda reception. Until education services are stablished in the near future, children living in these centres are adapting to living daily life. UNICEF and their partners are providing assistance to children and their families.

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Unaccompanied children, cared for by foster mothers, play in the Cacanda reception centre. Social workers are trained to register unaccompanied children, to ensure their safety and support reunification with their family. Family tracing efforts continue as 40 children are in foster care.

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Children wait in line to get water from a tank in the Cacanda reception centre. The water is tested and chlorinated prior to distribution. UNICEF and partners are providing clean water in both centres on a daily basis to ensure all families access enough water.

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An adolescent heads to the area of latrines built on the outskirts of the Mussungue reception centre. To improve sanitation and hygiene, UNICEF and partners have built shower points and latrines to prevent open defecation that could cause outbreaks such as cholera and other epidemic diseases.

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Refugees speak to other refugees in the Cacanda reception centre. Social mobilisers trained by UNICEF spread life-saving messages among families living in the centres such as how to prevent cholera, the importance of handwashing or how to use latrines.

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Malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory infections are the main health concerns for children. With the support of UNICEF, more than 2,500 children have been screened for malnutrition. Medicines and therapeutic food for severe acute malnutrition treatment have also been provided.

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Before or during the journey, many children witness violent attacks or sustain severe wounds caused by bullets or crude weapons. Child Friendly Spaces installed by UNICEF allow children to undertake informal learning and play while mothers receive protection messages.

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Children walk through the Cacanda reception centre. Many refugees lost everything when their houses or villages were destroyed. Others lost family in violent attacks. Now, living as refugees, they’re seeking an opportunity to start a new life.

Read more about the humanitarian situation in northern Angola.

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