Moro than 600 white Portuguese refugees from Angola have been given permission to leave the Cypriot freighter, the Silver Sky, which anchored in Walvis Bay on Wednesday (14 January).
AERIAL VIEW Boats anchored in bay
AV Silver Sky (2 shots)
SV Refugees on anchored vessels (3 shots)
GV Anchored refugee ship
SV Refugees on board (4 shots)
SV PAN ACROSS Refugee ship
SV Small vessels (4 shots)
AV Bay crowded with refugee ships
Initials CL/1840 CL/1855
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Background: Moro than 600 white Portuguese refugees from Angola have been given permission to leave the Cypriot freighter, the Silver Sky, which anchored in Walvis Bay on Wednesday (14 January).
However, another seven hundred black Angolans have been left behind on the vessel, with their fate still undecided by the South African and Portuguese authorities.
The freighter anchored at the remote South African port last week after sailing from the Angolan port of Mocamedes.
The South African Government decided that only bona fide Portuguese citizens among the refugees would be allowed ashore .. and only then on the condition that they agreed to be flown to Portugal.
Many of those allowed to leave the freighter, especially small children and the elderly, were too weak to negotiate the swaying gangway to the dockside and had to be helped ashore by members of the ship's crew.
After their papers had been checked and they had been vaccinated, they were put on special trains for Windhoek, where they will await flights to Portugal.
The Silver Sky will now rejoin a flotilla of twenty-four freighters and small fishing boats at anchor outside Walvis Bay with over one thousand other refugees aboard while a decision is made about their future.
According to Reuters, many of the black refugees left aboard the Silver Sky are known to be members of the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola).
SYNOPSIS: A flotilla of twenty-four ships carrying more than one thousand Angolan refugees remains anchored off the South African coast, at Walvis Bay. The fleet has now been anchored for more than a week while the authorities decide the fate of the refugees. However, more than six hundred white Portuguese refugees were allowed to leave the Cypriot freighter, Silver Sky by proving that they were bona fide Portuguese citizens. Another seven hundred black Angolans had to remain on board the freighter which will now rejoin the other vessels anchored off the bay.
The refugees fled the southern Angolan port of Mocamedes last week after reports of fighting between the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), supposedly allies in the battle against the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). According to Reuters, many of the black refugees left aboard the Silver Sky are known to be members of the FNLA.
Conditions on the boats are unhygienic and deteriorating rapidly according to official reports. The refugees have been given the choice of returning to Angola or finding refuge elsewhere, and reports said some were considering setting out for Brazil, some three thousand five hundred miles across the Atlantic.