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Dozens raped as migrant workers deported from Angola to DR Congo | Migration News

Dozens raped as migrant workers deported from Angola to DR Congo | Migration News

Congolese civilians, Angolan forces responsible for abuse of women and children, says doctor, as thousands of undocumented workers deported.

Women and children were raped and subjected to other abuse during a mass deportation of migrant workers from Angola to the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a doctor, officials and the United Nations.

Angola has expelled thousands of workers in recent months, according to UN figures, echoing previous purges over the past 12 years, in which abuses have also taken place, rights groups say. of Man and the United Nations.

The scale of the latest deportation is not yet known, but 12,000 workers crossed a border crossing near the DRC town of Kamako in the past six months, according to figures not previously released by the UN agency. United for Migration, International Organization for Migration (IOM). ).

Last month, UN staff visited the area and compiled a preliminary internal report on the situation, according to Reuters news agency.

“Girls and women are arrested wherever they are, without the necessary needs, detained and then separated from their children and husbands, subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, sometimes raped,” the report states.

The report, which has yet to be published, did not explicitly identify the perpetrators. A doctor working in the area blamed DRC civilians and Angolan security forces.

A spokesman for the Angolan migration authority, Simão Milagres, said there had been an increase in deportations in recent weeks, but denied that rapes and other abuses had taken place.

“That’s not true,” he said. “I can guarantee that there is no institutional attitude favoring violence against migrants.

Congolese migrants expelled from Angola push a rental bicycle to carry their belongings along the dirt road to Tshikapa, Kasai Province near the border with Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo
Workers expelled from Angola push a rental bike laden with their belongings along a dirt road towards Tshikapa in the DRC near its border with Angola [File: Giulia Paravicini/Reuters]

Rise in cases

The UN report did not specify the number of cases of abuse. But Victor Mikobi, a doctor who specializes in treating survivors of sexual violence at a health center in Kamako, said local clinics had recorded 122 cases of rape this year, unprecedented levels for the town. he declares.

“These are women or girls expelled from Angola, some of whom are under the age of 10, without any means of subsistence and very vulnerable to this type of violence,” he said. Cases of gang rape have caused medical complications, he said.

Based on testimonies from patients treated at his health center, he estimated that at least 14 rapes were committed by Angolan security forces. Dozens more were committed by civilians in the DRC, he said.

A DRC immigration official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said that in meetings officials had spoken of dozens of rapes on both sides of the border.

Dieudonné Pieme Tutokot, governor of the Kasai region in southern DRC, said he was aware of the rapes and had opened an investigation.

Search for diamonds

Angola’s diamond-rich Lunda Norde region has long attracted thousands of migrant workers from the remote and impoverished south of the DRC. Many come to work illegally, according to the UN report. Only 20% of the deported workers had a permit.

Kamako has become an “open-air migrant camp”, the head of IOM’s mission in the DRC, Fabien Sambussy, told reporters.

Abbé Trudon Keshilemba, president of a group of civil society organizations in Kamako, said: “The Congolese end up occupying entire villages in Angola, and the Angolans feel that they are going to disappear.

Milagres said Angola carried out its crackdown on undocumented workers as it sought to promote legal migration through an online visa application process.

Mass deportations from Angola to the DRC occur every few years. The largest, in 2018, resulted in the expulsion of 330,000 workers. Over the course of two months in 2010, the UN estimated that more than 650 people suffered sexual violence during deportations from Angola.

“We are witnessing this without being able to do anything due to a lack of resources,” said the DRC immigration officer.

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