Migrants expelled from Angola into DR of Congo need urgent aid, UN says

21 April 2004

At least 80,000 migrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who were recently expelled by neighbouring Angola from a diamond-rich district, urgently need food, medicines, clean water and transport, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

OCHA said it led an interagency mission, including partners from the non-governmental organization (NGO) community, to the town of Tshikapa in Western Kasai Province, 750 kilometres from the DRC capital, Kinshasa, yesterday. The agency has led two such missions in the past week.

In response to the needs of the expellees, the DRC's Ministry of Solidarity and Human Affairs is opening two humanitarian crisis cells. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is bringing in water and sanitation equipment and medical supplies for 35,000 people, while NGO Médecins sans Frontières-Belgium (MSF-B) is providing medical, transport and logistical support, it said.

About 67,000 of the estimated 80,000 to 100,000 expellees have been registered, OCHA said.

For some of the Congolese the expulsion has landed them in their home country for the very first time and they have no means of support. Many reported that Angolan civilians conducted public body searches on adults and children for diamonds and some talked of rape, torture, murder, arbitrary detention and theft of personal belongings, it said.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, expressed concern over reports that armed groups have infiltrated into Rwanda from the eastern DRC and Burundi, threatening the peace process in the area.

MONUC said it has increased its patrols on the border and is investigating the reports.

 

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