Emergency aid to DRC Congolese stranded in Angola
Last Friday, UNHCR distributed bread, dry rations, blankets and jerry cans to 182 Congolese, 60 percent of them women and children, stranded for six days without adequate food and water on the tarmac of Angola's Viana airport. UNHCR was called to help by the airport authorities, who were unable to supply the group. The stranded people were part of a larger group of 802 former Congolese soldiers from the Katanga province and their families who were being returned to the DRC from Angola. The remaining 620 had already been flown to Kinshasa earlier last week. The people helped by UNHCR were flown to Kinshasa on Saturday. UNHCR delivered 85 plastic sheets and 1,200 plastic mats to the site in Kinshasa.
UNHCR was not aware of the repatriation movement, apparently agreed upon bilaterally by DRC and Angola, until the call for emergency help came.
To avoid disorderly movements, UNHCR has been negotiating with both governments for several months to put together a tripartite repatriation operation for the some 11,000 Congolese who are still refugees in Angola. Most of these refugees are from the western part of Katanga, which is not affected by the fighting between rebels and government forces. The plan was to repatriate them through the south-eastern city of Lubumbashi. Many of the Congolese are keen to return to the DRC because of the deteriorating situation in Angola.