HRW denounces Angola expulsion of 400,000 Congolese

File photo showing Congolese migrants (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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HRW denounces Angola expulsion of 400,000 Congolese

  • Government has claimed that smuggling was organized by irregular migrants
  • The migrants have accused Angolan security forces of physical and sexual abuse

JOHANNESBURG: A global rights watchdog on Thursday called on Angola to halt mass deportations after more than 400,000 migrants mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo fled or were expelled from Angola in just weeks.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says migrants have been targeted in a massive operation targeting diamond smuggling.
Without producing evidence, the government of President Joao Lourenco has claimed that smuggling was organized and controlled by irregular migrants.
“Angola should stop forcing people to leave the country until it can provide individual assessment and due process guarantees to distinguish irregular migrants from refugees and registered migrant workers,” said Dewa Mavhinga, the HRW southern Africa director in a statement.
In a report, HRW said the government “should immediately suspend the deportation of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into alleged abuses by state security forces.”
The migrants have accused Angolan security forces of physical and sexual abuse that feed a climate of fear and intimidation.
Angola is the world’s fifth-largest diamond producing country.
HRW pointed to UN reports that Angolan security forces and allied youth militias from the ethnic Tshokwe group, shot dead at least six Congolese last month during an operation in Lunda North province bordering Congo.
The government has vehemently denied that its security forces committed abuses during “Operation Transparency.” But the Angolan ambassador to the DRC, Jose Joao Manuel, has said his government was willing to investigate the allegations, according to HRW.
The rights group also expressed fears that the sudden return of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants risked further destabilising southern Congo in the wake of national elections set to take place on December 23.
DR Congo has an abundance of mineral wealth but is rocked by unrest unleashed by rebel groups and militias from within and neighboring nations such as Uganda and Rwanda.
Oil-rich Angola attracts hordes of Congolese as it is relatively stable and offers better employment prospects.
Angola and DR Congo share a 2,500-kilometer (1,550-mile) land border, the longest in Africa.


South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

Updated 10 December 2018
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South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

  • The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule

NAIROBI: South Sudan will vaccinate key health workers against Ebola close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which faces a new epidemic, the World Health Organization said Monday.
The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule, the UN agency said in a statement.
South Sudan is one of several countries bordering the vast DRC, where the new outbreak of the highly contagious viral disease had since August claimed 271 lives by December 6, according to Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga.
A total of 2,160 doses of the experimental vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV have been allocated to South Sudan for a program starting on December 19. This trial vaccine is not yet licensed but is considered safe and provided “under the compassionate-use guidelines in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC,” the WHO said.
Like neighboring Uganda, where similar measures have been taken for health personnel, South Sudan has declared a state of alert because of the risk that Ebola may be carried into its territory. At present, no cases have been reported, according the WHO.
The experimental vaccine first went on trial during the terrible epidemic of Ebola that ravaged parts of West Africa between the end of 2013 and 2016, at a cost of more than 11,300 lives. The disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids from other people or infected animals.
The vaccine was created by Canadian public health specialists at the National Microbiology Laboratory and is considered highly effective by the WHO, but it works only against the Ebola virus-Zaire strain, confirmed in the outbreak in the DRC.
South Sudan has been torn by civil war for five years in a conflict that has left nearly 400,000 dead. More than four million people — about a third of the population — have fled.
The main belligerents signed a peace accord in September, but the work of humanitarian organizations remains complicated and dangerous.
Participants in the vaccination program have been trained on rVSV-ZEBOV and undertaken a simulation exercise. Meanwhile, the Ebola preparedness contingency plan covers measures ranging from screening travelers, community engagement and provision for safe and dignified funerals, the WHO said.