DRC: Expelled Congolese waiting for aid

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tens of thousands of Congolese expelled from Angola since the beginning of July have lost all their goods and have not received any help, according to NGOs.

They have been arriving in several villages along the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola.

“They sleep in the street and they have been stripped of their goods by the Congolese army at the border. They are not receiving any assistance from either the government or humanitarian agencies,” said Albert Fwamba, president of the Ligue nationale paysanne des droits de l’homme, an NGO based in Tshikapa, in the Kasai Occidental province.

According to the Tshikapa administrator, Robert Kulusifu, more than 13,000 Congolese expelled from Angola have entered the country through three different villages in the area - Kawakala, Kamako and Kabungu.

“Two women gave birth at the border without any medical assistance,” said Kulusifu. “We cannot help them and we are worried about them as they are exposed to diseases such as malaria,” he added.

Most of those driven out of Angola have walked for hundreds of kilometres, Kulusifu said.

The humanitarian community is aware of the situation and is preparing a mission to bring medical help and goods, according to Eusebe Hounsokou, a representative of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

“We are trying to establish if Congolese refugees registered in Angola are among the expelled. If there are, there are only very few of them,” he said.

The Angolan ambassador, Joao-Baptista Mawete, said those who had been expelled were mining illegally in Angola.

“The measure does not concern only Congolese but any foreigner living illegally in the area,” he said.

There is no concrete evidence of how many people are involved; however, Radio Okapi, which broadcasts for the UN Mission in the DRC, MONUC, reported that more than 25,000 people had been expelled.

Source: IRIN