Vatican News

Angola: JRS continues its mission to refugees in Lunda Norte amidst COVID-19

With the onset of COVID-19, the Jesuit Refugee Services has had to rethink its mission to refugees in Angola says Fr. Celestine Epalango, a Jesuit, who works in Angola with JRS.

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According to JRS, the reality of refugees in Angola is complicated.  In 2017, large numbers of people fled the Kasai Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and entered the north-eastern part of Angola. This forced migration was a result of widespread conflict within the DRC, which caused the internal displacement of 1, 4 million people. At that moment, about 35 thousand people escaped into the Lunda Norte Province of Angola.

"For the past 13 years, JRS has been providing free legal assistance; psychosocial and spiritual counselling for refugees and asylum seekers; unaccompanied minors; orphans, victims and survivors of Gender-Based Violence; young single mothers, refugee children who cannot go to school and even those who have no birth certificates; elderly people and refugees and asylum seekers in Angola," explains Fr. Epalango.

Raising COVID-19 awareness among refugees

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted JRS to deliver educational material to refugees in the Province of Lunda Norte. The idea was to raise community awareness among refugees and the Internal Displacement of Persons.

Refugees producing face masks

Besides, JRS is involved in the promotion of initiatives by refugees, such as the production of more than 6000 masks. This, says Epalango, is a concrete way of promoting the economic sustainability of refugees as well as providing means of combatting the spread of the pandemic. JRS regularly provides hygiene equipment to refugees, especially victims of Gender-Based Violence.

Bailing out refugees in conflict with confinement rules

JRS conducts daily visits to Angola's detention centres to assist in the release of refugees who, having violated the rules of the state of emergency, are detained as a consequence. On average, two detainees are released per week.

(Agenzia Fides)

08 July 2020, 09:57