May 20, 2004

Angola-DRC: Luanda announces 45-day suspension of expulsions

Angola has announced a 45-day suspension of Congolese people working illegally in its diamond mines. The announcement was made at the end of a joint security conference in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). "After the 45-day period, the Angolan authorities will inform their Congolese counterparts before resuming the expulsions," the officials said in a communiqué issued at the end of the conference.

Angolan and Congolese government ministers, governors of the bordering provinces, as well as immigration and security officials from both countries attended the meeting. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 80.000 Congolese have been expelled from Angola since the beginning of the year. Congolese authorities have described the conditions of the expulsions as "inhuman". "During the last wave of expulsions, some expellees were reportedly wounded by bullets fired at close range by Angolan police and security forces," Olivier Eyenga, the OCHA liaison officer, said.

The conference was the third between government officials of both countries to discuss the expulsions. The others were held in February and April, in Angola. A senior Congolese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, who requested anonymity, said future expulsions would only involve Congolese living illegally in Angola's diamond mining areas. In addition, the official said, expulsions would only be carried out after negotiations between the two governments. The official added that future expulsions would be preformed in a manner that respected human dignity, international law and all agreements signed by the two countries. (IRIN)


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