UN humanitarian office asks help for Congolese women expelled from Angola

29 April 2004

The United Nations relief coordination office today called for help for many girls and women recently expelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Angola’s diamond district, saying they were sexually abused by Angolan military officials searching them for hidden gemstones.

OCHA had previously issued a special appeal for help for some 80,000 Congolese, some born during their parents’ exile in neighbouring Angola, who were expelled during the Angolan sweep of its diamond mines for illegal workers.

Today it called for boosting the capacity of health partners already working in the area and the financing of new partners with expertise in sexual violence and the prevention and transmission of HIV/AIDS.

According to OCHA, it received reports that Angolan military agents “sexually abused women and girls under the pretext of searching for hidden diamonds among Congolese being expelled from Angola.

“In addition to the psychological trauma caused, (the) risk of HIV/AIDS infection and other sexually transmissible diseases is high as military agents are reportedly using unsanitary methods for internal body cavity searches of both men and women,” it said.

The Congolese were being expelled from the Angolan provinces of Malange, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul and Kwanza Sul since December, the Office said. To reach the border, they were forced to walk for days, leaving the weak and the young behind to their fate.

A shipment of aid, including blankets, generators, boats and jerry cans, arrived in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, on Sunday and was to be distributed by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), OCHA said, adding that it also requested more help with truck transport.

 

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