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Angola Opens Borders for Fleeing Congolese

UNITED Nations refugee agencies have appealed to Angola to keep its borders open to accommodate thousands fleeing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 11 000 people have entered the Southern African country from DRC in recent weeks following the brutal conflict in the previously peaceful Kasai region where 1 million civilians have been displaced since the strife began in mid-2016.

In Angola, the displaced have been in makeshift reception centres in Dundo where there are some 4 000 children, are arriving exhausted, many with visible signs of violence, and bringing very little resources with them.

Sharon Cooper, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative, said the agency had requested the government to allow refugees to continue crossing the border, provide unhindered access to UNHCR to assist new arrivals, as well the Angolan Army not to return people fleeing the violence to the DRC.

The army is managing the border. Meanwhile, conditions in over-crowded centres accommodating refugees are poor and arrivals are in urgent need of life-saving assistance including food, water, shelter and medical services.

The government is planning to allocate a new site in Nzaji, Camulo municipality some 90 kilometers from the border. The site was previously used to host internally displaced persons during the civil war in Angola.

On Sunday, an aircraft carrying core relief items arrived in Luanda to assist refugees. UNHCR is also procuring food locally to support the most vulnerable persons including children, pregnant women and elderly. Angola is currently hosting some 56 700 refugees and asylum-seekers, of whom close to 25 000 are from DRC.

Mugiejo A

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