UNHCR concerned about humanitarian situation in DR Congo due to mass returns

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-16 23:15:51|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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GENEVA, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said Tuesday it is concerned by a fast-developing humanitarian situation in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) sparked by mass returns from Angola over the last two weeks.

"Congolese government officials estimate that some 200,000 nationals have arrived in Kasai Province alone, with more arrivals reported in neighboring Kasai Central Province," said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch at a media briefing here.

Their arrivals follow an expulsion order by the authorities in Angola targeting migrants. The Congolese were working in the informal mining sector, in the northeast of Angola, before being asked to leave.

UNHCR is appealing to the governments of Angola and the DR Congo to work together to ensure a safe and orderly population movement.

Mass expulsions are contrary to obligations under the African Charter and we ask both sides to respect the human rights of those affected. Without such cooperation, the returns could easily create a humanitarian crisis in the already fragile Kasai region, said UNHCR.

There have been reports of violent clashes in some areas of Angola as law enforcement agents have attempted to enforce the leave order, it said.

The deadline for compliance with this order expired Monday.

With the deadline having passed, thousands of returnees are on the Congolese side of the border. More were seen walking towards the DR Congo border or arriving by cars, bus, minibuses or trucks on the Angola side of the border from where they walk to cross, taking their belongings with them.

"The Congolese are returning to a desperate situation, looking for safety and aid," said Baloch.

UNHCR teams are currently working with UN and other partners in the region to assess humanitarian needs, trying to ensure those most at risk, including unaccompanied children, are taken care of, said the UN agency.