November 5, 2010

Hundreds abused during expulsions, UN says

According to U.N. agency reports, more than 650 people have suffered sexual violence during mass expulsions from Angola to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past two months. The U.N. Children's Fund UNICEF reported, that 6.621 people arrived in two territories of Luiza and Tshikapa/Kamonia, in Western Kasai province, in two waves during October. "The conditions of expulsion are still terrible. In many cases, sexual violence is reported and even cases of torture," said the report, citing 657 instances of sexual violence based on evidence collated by welcome committees in the two areas.

Separately, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said doctors confirmed 35 other women had been raped, after examinations conducted in the Congolese town of Tembo near the Angolan border, adding that humanitarian workers believed the true figure was close to 100. "We are not in a position to confirm in which country they happened, but we do call on the authorities of the two countries to investigate these accusations to find out whether the rapes took place and where," said OCHA spokesman Maurizio Giuliano.

Neither Giuliano nor the UNICEF report mentioned who was behind the violence. Congolese Information Minister Lambert Mende said authorities had not received any such reports. "There are expulsions, perhaps there are rapes but we have received no complaints and we don't want to launch a dossier."

Angola helped Kinshasa's government fight off Rwandan- and Ugandan-backed rebels during fighting between 1998 and 2003, which drew in several neighbouring countries. Deteriorating relations between the two countries followed disputes over border demarcation, offshore oil ownership and closer Congolese relations with Rwanda and Uganda, its neighbours to the east. Moreover, since 2004 more than 400.000 undocumented immigrants, nearly all Congolese, have been expelled from Angola's mining provinces in "Operation Diamond", which is aimed at fighting the illegal traffic in Angola's diamonds, writes the South African News Agency. (UN/SAPA/SADOCC)

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