Angola’s violent expulsion of 200,000 Congolese nationals is raising tensions in a border region fraught with ethnic conflict.
Over the past month, Angola has forced Congolese living in its territory to cross the border back into the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai and Kasai Central provinces.
Kasai was the site of a brutal conflict in 2016–2017 spurred by ethnic tensions, and is unprepared for such a large influx of returnees.
Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu of DR Congo called for Angola to “carry out a thorough investigation” into who was responsible for the violence, and threatened to escalate his country’s response if no action is taken.
Many of those expelled were working as informal miners; Angolan police claim they were targeting foreigners suspected of diamond smuggling and that the Congolese returned home voluntarily.
With many returnees reportedly stranded near the border and lacking options, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned of an immediate need of food, water, shelter and basic services.
People are “staying overnight outdoors, in host families, church compounds and on streets,” the agency reported.
Sources: Voice of America (U.S. Congress funded), The Monitor (Uganda), U.N. Human Rights Council