The recent reported expulsion of more than 150 citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including 30 women who had allegedly been raped repeatedly, from Angola could signal a new wave of massive expulsions from both countries, the United Nations humanitarian arm said today.
According to unconfirmed but reliable reports, more than 150 Congolese arrived in the Tembo area of Bandundu province in western DRC, alleging to have been expelled by Angolan authorities. Local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) reported that they were told that two men had been killed and that 30 women were raped multiple times in the course of the expulsion.
In another instance, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that the Congolese authorities have confirmed that another 40 DRC citizens have arrived in Kasongo-Lunda, some 400 kilometres from Tembo, after reportedly having been forced to leave Angola.
“Although the current unconfirmed reports are only about a relatively small number of people, there is a possibility that this could be a new wave of massive expulsions, perhaps both ways,” said OCHA spokesperson Maurizio Giuliano.
Last year, some 160,000 Congolese citizens were expelled from Angola and 51,000 Angolans from the DRC.
“If things develop as they did last year, the number could potentially grow to tens of thousands quite rapidly,” Mr. Giuliano said, adding that relief agencies must closely monitor the situation.
He also emphasized that although there is a possibility that humanitarian agencies will help respond to the current situation, it is not likely to become a major crisis similar to those raging in eastern DRC, where more than 1.7 million have been uprooted by violence and where some 8,300 women were raped last year in the provinces of North and South Kivu alone.