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Angola deports Congolese, aid report cites abuses

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Sun, 24 Oct 2010 04:57 GMT
Author: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. Click For Restrictions.
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* Angola starts deporting Congolese again -reports

* Fears of new wave of civilians across border

By Katrina Manson

KINSHASA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Angola has deported nearly 200 Congolese citizens, according to humanitarian reports, prompting fears of a new wave of mass expulsions that saw tens of thousands displaced last year.

Dozens of men, women and children have arrived in Congo&${esc.hash}39;s southern Bandundu province, which lies on Angola&${esc.hash}39;s northern border, stripped of their clothes and some badly beaten or raped, according to a humanitarian report obtained by Reuters.

Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo were allies during the latter&${esc.hash}39;s 1998-2003 war, but relations have been strained in recent years due to rows over border demarcation and oil rights.

"All have been stripped completely: they come only with underwear, without shoes, and several are injured," said a report from Italian aid agency CISP sent to the U.N. peacekeeping mission and agencies working on civilian protection in Congo.

"Two people, men, were killed during the expulsion ... about 30 women had been brutally raped," according to the Italian agency&${esc.hash}39;s report, which also said a woman died of her injuries in Tembo, a Congolese town on the Angolan border.

Angola&${esc.hash}39;s ambassador to Congo, Emilio Jose de Carvalho Guerra, said by telephone from Rwanda he could not confirm the reports of a new wave of deportations but said past accusations of abuses had proved wrong.

"Each time we expel people there is always this tune, but when you look you find there is nothing in it," he said.

"Those who don&${esc.hash}39;t have their documents -- they&${esc.hash}39;re expelled. It&${esc.hash}39;s not an event."

Congo&${esc.hash}39;s Information Minister Lambert Mende said Kinshasa was aware that Angola was expelling Congolese but had received no reports of rapes or deaths.

Mende told Reuters that Angola expelled Congolese without visas. Several illegal artisanal diamond miners were among the Congolese expelled last year. "We are doing the same but not with the same regularity," Mende added.

Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian affairs office, noted reports of more than 190 expulsions.

"There is a possibility that this could be a new wave of mass expulsions -- perhaps both ways," he added in an emailed statement. "If things develop as they did last year, the number could potentially grow to tens of thousands quite rapidly."

Giuliano said an estimated 160,000 Congolese were expelled from Angola and 51,000 Angolans from Congo throughout 2009, peaking last October.

The tit-for-tat expulsions underlined trouble relations between the former allies. Angola helped Kinshasa&${esc.hash}39;s government fight off offensives by Rwandan- and Ugandan-backed rebels during the conflict.

Deteriorating relations follow rows over border demarcation, offshore oil ownership and closer Congolese relations with neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, neighbours to the east. (Editing by David Lewis)

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