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Some 30,000 expelled Angolans in "dire" need of assistance

News Stories, 20 October 2009

© UNHCR/Y.Ditewig
Angolans expelled from Democratic Republic of the Congo seek help in their homeland.

LUANDA, Angola, October 20 (UNHCR) Tens of thousands of Angolans recently expelled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are in dire need of humanitarian assistance around the town of Mbanza Congo. "Of particular concern to us is the fact that there are significant numbers of Angolan refugees among the forcibly returned," said a UNHCR spokesman.

UNHCR staff visited Mbanza Congo in northern Angola over the weekend as part of an inter-agency assessment mission to the area. According to the initial assessment, there are close to 30,000 people living in and around three overcrowded reception centres in Cuimba (11,000 people) and Mama Rosa (18,000 people), located close to the border with the DRC.

Their most pressing needs are shelter, food, medicine and sanitation facilities. The supply of clean water is insufficient and some people have been drinking from nearby rivers. In a makeshift camp near Cuimba, many families reported cases of diarrhoea and vomiting. In the same camp, most of the population is sleeping in the open air.

Some of them claimed they had been rounded up and taken to the border, despite the fact they carried documents certifying their refugee status. Others said 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. According to UN estimates, Angola forcibly returned 160,000 Congolese up to October this year. The Congolese claimed ill treatment while being expelled.

UNHCR welcomes the official agreement between the DRC and Angola to end the 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 Democratic Republic of the Congo.

At the request of the Angolan government, which has been trying to help those forcibly returned, UNHCR plans to provide assistance to the expelled civilians, many of whom are now waiting to go to their homes areas.

There are still more than 100,000 Angolan refugees in DRC.

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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

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