Mass expulsions from Angola put thousands of Congolese at risk

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet last month warned the mass deportation of Congolese nationals from Angola has already resulted in serious human rights violations by security forces on both sides of the border, and left at least 330,000 returnees in an extremely precarious situation.

Since the beginning of October, some 330,000 people have reportedly crossed from Angola, mostly into the Kasai, Kasai Central and Kwango provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, following an expulsion order by the Government of Angola targeting irregular migrants. In interviews with people in the border town of Kamako in Kasai, the UN Human Rights Office received reports indicating that security forces in Angola used excessive force in their operations to deport the Congolese nationals that “resulted in some deaths.”

Migrants also alleged that they were subjected to extortion and illegal taxation by the defence and security forces in the DRC. There have been allegations of arbitrary detention of returning migrants.

“International law and the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights forbid the mass expulsion of non-nationals without individual assessment or other due process guarantees. In expelling such a massive number of people in such a short time, Angola has placed tens of thousands of families at severe risk,” Bachelet said.

“I call on the Government of Angola to halt any ongoing deportations until it can be assured that any returns will be carried out in full respect of the rule of law and the human rights of all affected migrants. I also urge the Government to ensure that security forces and others responsible for violations in the course of these expulsions are held accountable.”

Appeal

Bachelet also urged the Government of the DRC to ensure that the returnees are protected from extortion by security forces and violence by others, particularly given the continued lack of accountability for the grave human rights violations that occurred in the Kasais between 2016 and 2017. The UN has also called on the Government of the DRC and the international community to redouble efforts to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the returnees.

Angola currently hosts some 68,000 refugees and asylum seekers. (

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