Angola has requested the re-activation of a tripartite mechanism with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the United Nations refugee agency to repatriate some 60,000 Angolans still in DRC in the wake of the mutual expulsion of scores of thousands of each other’s nationals by the neighbouring States.
UN agencies have been providing thousands of tents, sleeping mats and blankets, training local health workers to treat malnutrition, and supplying agricultural tools and seeds to cope with the influx, which passed 50,000 people at the end of October, according to Angolan authorities.
The number of expelled DRC nationals has significantly subsided in Kasais, Bandundu and Bas-Congo provinces, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its latest update today, but overall some 160,000 Congolese have been expelled from Angola since December.
Most of the deported Angolans, two thirds of whom are refugees, had been living in Bas-Congo province, and the forced returns are in response to the waves of expulsions of the Congolese, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
So far, due to speedy resettlement, three out of four reception centres have already been closed in Angola’s Zaire Province, but a UNHCR team deployed there has not been given regular access, with the exception of three transit centres, and has thus been unable to assist with registration procedures as planned.
Humanitarian agencies are considering launching an appeal to support those still in camps and the most vulnerable returnees who have left the camps, OCHA said.
On 30 October UNHCR airlifted 2,250 tents, 5,000 sleeping mats, 4,000 blankets and a temporary warehouse from its stockpile in South Africa. In Zaire Province, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the non-governmental organization (NGO) Mentor have rapidly trained health workers in detecting and treating malnutrition. UNICEF has also provided therapeutic biscuits for malnourished children.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture with the development of a programme to assist returnees with seeds and agricultural tools. Planting in the north is taking place now and the next season will be in February when the seasonal rains are expected.