- The UN agencies are preparing to airlift tents and an emergency response team to help scores of thousands of Angolans expelled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as each country continues to drive out its neighbour’s nationals.
According to the Angolan Ministry of Social Affairs and Reintegration, the number of Angolans expelled from DRC has risen to 60,000, including an undetermined but perhaps significant numbers of refugees, double the previous estimate, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.
The number of Congolese expelled from Angola has subsided in Kasai and Bandundu provinces, but remains high in Bas-Congo, growing from 2,000 in July to 18,000 in September. The daily rate of Congolese has decreased from 500 to 150, the vast majority of them irregular migrants, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The total expelled from Angola since December is estimated to be 160,000, 28 percent of them children about 23.5 percent women, the agency said.
Most of the deported Angolans had been living in Bas-Congo province, and the forced returns are in response to the waves of expulsions of large numbers of Congolese from Angola since December, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNHCR is preparing an airlift to deliver tents and deploy an emergency response team for the expelled Angolans, while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing water treatment equipment, chlorine tablets, baby formula bottles, water bladders, latrine slabs and soap.
UNICEF has also provided emergency education kits, but warns that integrating children into the Angolan educational system will pose challenges as many are not proficient in the Portuguese language and have no papers indicating what grades they were in while in DRC.
The Angolan government has provided 537 metric tons of food for those expelled in the provinces of Zaire, Uige and Cabinda, while UNICEF has sent a shipment of plumpy-nut - a ready-to-eat formula to prevent acute malnutrition of vulnerable children. The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) has also provided emergency kits of essential drugs in Zaire province to meet the needs of 10,000 people, the agencies reported.
Further, UNICEF and IOM have each provided one vehicle to the government to assist in transporting those expelled, but with the onset of the rainy season, more trucks will be needed due to poor road conditions. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) Mine Action programme has assessed proposed sites for shelter.
In DRC the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is closely monitoring the situation of households expelled from Angola through a pilot project providing 4,800 families with agricultural inputs and technical training, while WHO has sent essential drugs to six health posts in Luiza and Tshikapa territories, which are now providing free health services.
UNICEF and WHO are also organising a campaign to vaccinate under-fives against measles and pregnant women against tetanus, while the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has provided delivery kits to the government.
UNICEF, through a partnership with the non-governmental Catholic Relief Services (CRS), is also providing non-food items to some of those expelled from Angola.
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