Angolan refugees in South Africa: alternatives to permanent repatriation?

Published: 1/Jan/2016
Source: African Human Mobility Review (Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa)

By Sergio Carciotto


For almost twenty years, voluntary repatriation has been considered by the international community the preferable, durable and fitting solution to refugee situations. However, the numerous range of socio-economic and political factors which caused protracted refugee situations in the countries of asylum and the reluctance of refugees to return have raised doubts regarding the effectiveness of these programmes. The existing body of literature on return migration focuses on migrants’ decision-making  processes to return and on the  challenges encountered upon their return including post-return reintegration and identity crises, but a limited number of studies address the issue of refugees facing repatriation to post-conflict areas. This article seeks to contribute to the available literature on repatriation by examining the case study of Angolan refugees in South Africa, the implementation of the cessation of refugee status and its consequences on the decision-making process. Findings revealed that the lack of options to acquire permanent residence in the country of asylum represented a major block to transnational mobility. The article addresses the urgent need to reshape the notion of return in the context of refugee repatriation towards more flexible forms of return involving periods of dual residence and back and forth movements.

Download from AHMR, Vol.2 No1, Jan-April 2016:

Themes: Naturalisation and Marriage, Nationality and Refugees
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2016