UN aid officials voice concern about Angolan refugees in DR Congo

16 October 2009United Nations humanitarian officials today voiced concerns for the health and living conditions of tens of thousands of Angolan refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the two countries engage in retaliatory expulsions of each other’s citizens. Between 20,000 and 40,000 Angolans have massed in DRC’s Bas-Congo province near the Lufu and Kuzi border posts, and the concentration of people in such a small area poses health and sanitation concerns, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).Earlier this week OCHA deployed an inter-agency mission to Bas-Congo province to assess the conditions for the people expelled, with the concern greatest for Angolans expelled from the Cataractes district of Bas-Congo.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) complained to the Congolese Government about the expulsion of the Angolans and was assured that the forced moves would stop. The Angolan Government has also announced it has temporarily suspended expulsions of Congolese living in its territory.But OCHA said that humanitarian officials in the region are continuing to follow developments closely so they can respond quickly if the expulsions resume.Angola expelled about 2,000 people to the DRC in the first half of the year but the process has accelerated since then, with about 17,000 further expulsions in the past three months, and authorities in the DRC responding with their own expulsions. read more

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