from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – A NEW humanitarian crisis has engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after Angola expelled thousands of Congolese miners from the neighbouring country.
It is estimated some 200 000 Congolese have arrived in the Kasai region after the order by the Angolan government came to effect on Monday.
There have been reports of violent clashes in some areas of Angola as law enforcement agents have attempted to enforce the leave order.
Babar Baloch, spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), expressed concern at the impeding catastrophe.
“We have heard complaints of violence, including sexual violence and
harassment, bodily frisking and theft of belongings, at the hands of
security forces on both sides of the border,” he said.
Baloch disclosed hundreds of Congolese that were on their way to seek refuge in DRC had been returned back home having been caught up in the mass movement.
The refugee agency is appealing to the governments of Angola and the DRC to work together to ensure a safe and orderly population movement.
Baloch said mass expulsions were contrary to obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
He thus asked both governments to respect the human rights of those affected.
“Without such cooperation the returns could easily create a humanitarian crisis in the already fragile Kasai region,” Baloch added.
Angola currently hosts some 68 000 refugees and asylum-seekers, primarily from DRC.
The Internal Organisation for Migration (IOM) said among those expelled were unaccompanied minors, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
“We are particularly concerned about the well-being of these groups,” said Emery Kianga, IOM Operations Officer in DRC.
– CAJ News