Africa

Angola urged to investigate Congo expulsion rapes

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Angola should investigate the alleged rapes of women deported to Democratic Republic of Congo, the US State Department has said.

The UN says it has had reports that at least 30 women have been gang-raped.

They were among 150 Congolese citizens to have recently arrived in DR Congo's Bandundu province in what is feared may be another wave of mass expulsions.

The two nations agreed last year to stop tit-for-tat expulsions along the porous diamond-rich border area.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said both countries should use that deal to address migration issues along the border.

Correspondents say it is the first time the international community has spoken out about the expulsions, which have often been abrupt, violent and have affected hundreds of thousands of people in recent years.

Many of those deported from Angola in the past have been illegal diamond miners.

Angola, which is one of Africa's major oil producers, has denied any knowledge of the recent expulsions.

Media campaign

"We don't have any information which tells us that a mass expulsion of foreign citizens is going on," Nelson Cosme, a senior official in Angola's foreign ministry, told the Portuguese news agency, Lusa.

But the BBC's former Angola correspondent Louise Redvers says there is a strong campaign in the state media against illegal immigrants.

Minister of Interior Sebastiao Martins is reported to have called on all foreign citizens in Angola illegally to leave.

"We will be ruthless with those who choose Angola to carry out activities which are harmful to our economy and society and which create embarrassment to the internal state security," Lusa quotes him as saying.

According to the UN's humanitarian spokesman in DR Congo, Maurizio Giuliano, the expulsions affected an estimated 160,000 Congolese and 51,000 Angolans in 2009.

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