• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR seeks support of Portuguese in Switzerland for Angola projects

News Stories, 22 November 2006

© UNHCR/S.Hopper
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres meets leading members of Switzerland's Portuguese community at an awareness and fund-raising event for UNHCR projects in Angola.

GENEVA, November 22 (UNHCR) High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, has addressed leading members of Switzerland's large Portuguese community in an event aimed at boosting awareness of UNHCR's work and raising funds for two projects in Angola.

Guterres began his presentation in UNHCR's Geneva headquarters Tuesday evening by giving a quick overview of the agency's work on behalf of refugees and other uprooted people around the world.

"A growing number of people in the world are becoming interested in global issues, including the work of UNHCR. We want to increase awareness and understanding among the public and an effective solidarity with refugees. By helping returnees to reintegrate, people will have another view of them," he told the guests, including senior Portuguese diplomats and leading members of the estimated 167,000-strong permanent Portuguese community in Switzerland.

He said that he and his compatriots living overseas were well placed to understand the problems faced by refugees and other people of concern to UNHCR. "Immigrant communities have a particular sensitivity to these issues. As we all know, in the past many of our compatriots had to leave our country in difficult circumstances," he said.

Large numbers of Portuguese left the country for political and economic reasons between the 1920s and the 1970s. A bloodless left-wing coup in 1974 paved the way for a modern democracy and independence for Portugal's colonies. Many Portuguese have moved to other European countries since the country joined the European Union in 1986.

Guterres also informed the audience about two UNHCR programmes in Angola. The projects are aimed at helping smooth the reintegration of the more than 380,000 Angolans who have returned to their country in the last four years.

UNHCR hopes to tap the Portuguese community the third largest group of foreigners living in Switzerland for funding, especially of the Angola projects given the historical ties between Portugal and the African country, which gained independence from Lisbon in 1975.

Under the first project, aimed at promoting food security and self-reliance, seed banks are being set up. Some 500 families will be able to access the banks during the planting season. The second project will help provide Portuguese-language tuition for some 2,000 returnee children in Moxico province.

The projects are part of UNHCR's larger programmes for Angola in the areas of agriculture and education. The UN refugee agency's total budget for Angola next year amounts to US$8 million, including US$800,000 for agriculture and US$1 million for education.

Some 68 percent of Angola's population still live below the poverty line. Access to basic services, such as education, health and water, remains severely limited and maternal and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world.

By William Spindler in Geneva

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Controller and Director (D-2) in Geneva, Switzerland

Closing date for receipt of applications: 1 December 2014.

2014 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented the Colombian women's rights group, Butterflies with New Wings Building a Future, with the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday night.

The volunteer members of Butterflies risk their lives each day to help survivors of forced displacement and sexual abuse in the Pacific Coast city of Buenaventura. This city has some of the highest rates of violence and displacement due to escalating rivalries between illegal armed groups.

Drawing on only the most modest of resources, volunteers cautiously move through the most dangerous neighbourhoods to help women access medical care and report crimes. This work, deep inside the communities, helps them reach the most vulnerable women, but also brings with it danger and threats from the illegal armed groups.

The Award ceremony, in its 60th year, was held in Geneva's Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, and featured musical performances by UNHCR supporters, Swedish-Lebanese singer-songwriter Maher Zain and Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré. The Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela also performed at the ceremony.

2014 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

Forty Years On, Antonio Goes Home to Angola

Antonio has been waiting 40 years to return to his home village in northern Angola. He fled to Democratic Republic of the Congo when the country was a Portuguese colony, and stayed away through years of civil war and during the peace that followed in 2002. Now, no longer classed as a refugee, he is finally going back.

Seated in a rickety chair in his family's rented apartment in Kinshasa on the eve of his departure, the 66-year-old Angolan was excited. "I feel joy when I think that I will go home. It's better to be a citizen of your own country than a refugee in another country. It's liberation," he said, flanked by his wife, sister and granddaughter.

Photographer Brian Sokol followed the four of them as they began their journey in Kinshasa on August 19, taking a seven-hour train journey to the town of Kimpese in Bas-Congo province and then reaching the border by bus. They were among the first group to go back home with the help of UNHCR under a third and final voluntary repatriation programme since 2002. The family faces many new challenges in Angola, but their joy was far greater than any apprehension. "I will dance when we arrive at the border," said Antonio's sister, Maria. UNHCR is organizing the return of nearly 30,000 former refugees to Angola.

Forty Years On, Antonio Goes Home to Angola

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented Sister Angélique Namaika of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award at a gala ceremony in Geneva on Monday night.

Sister Angélique, through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls who had been forced from their homes and abused by fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) or other armed groups. Many of those she helps suffered abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape or other human rights abuses.

The Roman Catholic nun helps survivors to heal by offering them the chance to learn a trade, start a small business or go to school. Testimonies from these women show the remarkable effect she has had on helping turn around their lives, with many affectionately calling her "mother."

The Award ceremony featured a keynote speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and Grammy-nominated Malian musicians, Amadou and Mariam.

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

Almost Home Play video

Almost Home

Former Angolan refugees, in exile for as many as three decades, are given the opportunity to locally integrate in neighboring Zambia with the help of UNHCR and the Zambian Government.
Switzerland: Kuwait Donates US$ 100 Million to the Syria CrisisPlay video

Switzerland: Kuwait Donates US$ 100 Million to the Syria Crisis

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees welcomes the State of Kuwait's contribution of US$ 100 million to support UNHCR operations aiding Syrians.
UNHCR Geneva: Executive Committee 2012Play video

UNHCR Geneva: Executive Committee 2012

Refugee agency chief António Guterres opens annual ExCom meeting with warning that UNHCR being stretched by multiplication of new refugee crises.