- The UN refugee agency says thousands of Angolans expelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo seeking refuge in three congested reception centers in Angola, need urgent humanitarian assistance.
According to a statement issued by UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, an inter-agency assessment mission that visited the centres during the weekend, have discovered that close to 30, 000 people are living in overcrowded refugee camps in Cuimba and Mama Rosa.
The agency said the most pressing needs for refugees in the centres are shelter, food, medicine and sanitation facilities, further stating that the supply of clean water is also insufficient.
“Some of the expelled refugees in Cuimba drink from the nearby contaminated rivers. Many families reported cases of diarrhea and vomiting. Most of the population is sleeping in the open air,” the statement said.
According to the UNHCR spokesperson, Andrej Mahecic, the agency is also alarmed by the number of Angolans forcibly retuned to their home country despite having legal documentation certifying their refugee status.
He further said others have complained that they were forced back without having had a chance to take their identification documents or any of their belongings.
Most of them were deported from the Bas Congo Province in southern DRC. These forced returns came in response to the waves of expulsions of large numbers of Congolese from Angola since December 2008, the agency said.
The agency said today that it welcomes the DRC-Angola agreement to end cross-border expulsions.
However, Angolan authorities told the inter-agency mission that they expected further, large scale returns of Angolans who feel they can no longer remain in the DRC.
The agency said at the request of the Angolan government, UNHCR plans to provide assistance to the groups expelled, many of whom are now displaced and waiting to go back to their homes.
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