UN reports ongoing expulsions of DR Congo citizens from Angola

Health officials in the DR of Congo say many women arriving from Angola have been sexually abused

29 December 2010 – Citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) expelled from neighbouring Angola continued to arrive in their country of origin this month, with many reporting that they were subjected to mistreatment, including sexual violence, the United Nations humanitarian office said today.

Some 1,355 expellees have arrived in DRC’s Bas-Congo and Kasai provinces since 11 December, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a press release. The new arrivals bring to more than 12,000 the number of Congolese expelled from Angola since September.

In September and October, humanitarian agencies reported the arrival of 8,296 people in the Luiza and Tshikapa areas of Kasai Occidental province, 511 people in the Tembo area of Bandundu province and some 2,000 people in Bas-Congo province. The majority were DRC nationals.

“Authorities in both countries must take all necessary measures to ensure that the human rights and human dignity of those expelled are respected,” said Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Humanitarian assessment missions that visited the areas of arrival in October and November found that many of the individuals had endured ill-treatment and human rights abuses, including torture. There were also more than 100 confirmed cases of sexual violence.

Those expelled are receiving food, clothes, hygiene kits, medication, as well as psychological assistance from the humanitarian agencies, according to OCHA. A response plan has been developed within the framework of the DRC Humanitarian Action Plan to address the needs of those recently expelled. Additional assistance is urgently required, the office added.

“We are seriously concerned by the accelerating pace of expulsions over the last two weeks. Thousands of people are living in deplorable conditions, and the capacity of the humanitarian community is being stretched,” said Fidèle Sarassoro, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the DRC.

Forcible deportation of illegal immigrants between Angola and the DRC is a recurring problem. In October last year, authorities in both countries agreed to consult prior to any expulsions and to ensure respect for human rights, including protection and security for those expelled.

“These consultations must take place so that protection can be provided to those in need,” Mr. Sarassoro added.

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