UN alarmed by Congolese refugee influx in Angola

Sunday May 07 2017

DR Congo and President Joseph Kabila. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The United Nations is raising the alarm over the rising number of DR Congo refugees in Angola.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the number of new arrivals had risen to at least 16,000.

It attributed the influx to the rising violence in the DR Congo central Kasai region.

The UN agency put the daily arrivals at between 300 and 400 people.

A tribal chief

The Kasai violence erupted when government forces killed a tribal chief and militia leader Kamwina Nsapu.


Nsapu was leading a rebellion against President Joseph Kabila, whose stay in power beyond the mandatory two-five year term limit has been contested by other parties.

According to the UNHCR, out of the above figure, 4,000 were children, many reaching the refugee camps with fever, malaria and diarrhoea.

“The situation in refugee camps is of extreme poverty, tents are not enough to accommodate the refugees and many of them have to stay in the open,” Mr Markkus Aikomus, the UNHCR spokesperson for Africa told VOA Radio.

Persistent exit

“As the conflict is worsening in the DRC particularly in Kasai region, the UNHCR is asking for $5.5 million to help the refugees," Mr Aikomus was quoted saying.

“Angola has to be ready to receive around 20,000 and 30,000 DRC refugees in the next few months as there is a persistent exit of people from Kasai."

VOA also quoted the UN official saying that the conflict in Kasai had already rendered some 1 million people displaced.

Shares borders

The people fleeing into Angola arrived mainly at Dundo, the capital of north-eastern Luanda Norte Province.

Luanda Norte Province is located 656km north of Luanda, and shares borders with both DRC and Congo-Brazzaville.

DR Congo's eastern side has also been wracked by conflict since 1994, when Hutu militias fled across the border from Rwanda after carrying out a genocide against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.


A plane carrying UNHCR staff and core relief items arrived in Luanda last week, to assist over 11,000 people who fled a recent surge of violence in DRC.

The aircraft's consignment included 3,500 plastic sheets, 100 plastic rolls to provide shelter during the rainy season, 17,000 sleeping mats, 16,902 thermal fleece blankets, 8,000 mosquito nets, 3,640 kitchen sets, 8,000 jerry cans and 4,000 plastic buckets.

Angola is currently hosting some 56,700 refugees and asylum-seekers, of who close to 25,000 were from the DRC.