“It was a big struggle”: Catholic Official after Angola Moves to Document Refugees

Sr. Carla Luísa Frei

The Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CEPAMI) has lauded the decision by the Angolan government to issue national documents to migrants and refugees living in the Southern African nation, saying that the move is a big win for the Church in the country.

In a Tuesday, June 4 interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Carla Luísa Frei, the Executive Secretary of CEPAMI however, said that the win wasn't easy and that it was “a big struggle.”

“Angola is currently in the process of regularizing the documentation of refugees and immigrants who are in the country,” Sr. Frei told ACI Africa. 

The Brazilian-born Catholic Nun said this process that started last year in Luanda “is now being extended to the other provinces.”

Sr. Frei said the government’s move was a result of CEPAMI’s 10 years of hard work.


“It was a big struggle, a great difficulty to achieve, and, thank God, it has been achieved,” the member of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St Charles Borromeo (MSCS) also known as Scalabrinians said.

Sr. Frei said the document will give refugees and migrants in Angola “more rights” such as the possibility of opening a bank account and acquiring a SIM card for their mobile phones.

There are at least 56,000 refugees and asylum seekers and 200,000 immigrants in Angola. In addition, an unknown number of people have entered the country without a permit or remained after their visas expired.

In the June 4 interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Frei confirmed the growing number of migrants and refugees in Angola.

She said, “We too, as a Commission, have noticed that the number of immigrants and refugees is growing.”

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Sr. Frei said, “There are many foreign migrants on Angolan soil mainly to exploit minerals, oil, agriculture and to make investments.”

The  Brazilian missionary nun said there are also many Angolans leaving the country in search of better conditions abroad.

“As a commission, we are sensitive to the appeals of migrants and refugees who come to us, realizing that even in the journey of the migrant and refugee, there are many joys and hopes along the way and in the certainty that God walks with his people,” Sr. Frei said.

She appealed for prayers for migrants and refugees, saying, “Let's pray for migrants and refugees, especially those who find it more difficult on the way in countries, or in receptive places so that civil society can also be sensitive to the appeals of refugee migrants and those most in need.”  

João Vissesse is an Angolan Journalist with a passion and rich experience in Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate.