Sexual Vilence and other Abuses against Congolese Migrants during Expulsions from Angola (A timeline of events regarding the issure- events that led up to it, what was happening during it, etc.)
Although the reasons for the war do not directly apply to the issue, is conflict provides a background for why Congolese first began comoing to Angola in vast groups.
During the last decade of the civil war, mining areas, largely in Zaire, served as a bulwark for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebels. This organization trafficed gemstones throughout Zaire with the use of Congolese miners, who were hired by mining companies to work in Angolan mines in the 1990's.
Also, soon after the Civil war, as Angola was recieving millions of dollars from oil revenues began to make discoveries the Democratic Republic of Congo remained in violent conflict. A large economic gap began to emerge, and more DRC citizens saw Angola as a better option and were able to muster up enough courage to risk the abuse for the hopes of a better life.
This was the first mass expulsion that began in February of 2003. It was coordinated by the FAA (Angolan Armed Forces) and National Police. The operation ended up expelling over 300,000 irregular migrants mainly northwest provinces.
Congolese human rights activists, UN agencies, OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitartian Affairs) and other organizations who opposed expulsions from the start, quickly exposed what expulsions were really like.They were characterized by beatings, sexual violence, and degrading (and unsanitary) body searches. As the years followed, more and more agencies documented these horrible events, and found most of the migrant victims were Congolese, and were committed by Angolan security forces.
In 2007, evidence was presented that Angolan police forces had systematically raped and beaten women andgirls during expulsion operations. 100 first-hand accounts were also provided from victims.
Human rights watch researchers traveled to different provinces in Lunda Norte and Cabinda during July of 2009 and November. They also visited Kinshasa and provinces of the Bas-Congo and Kasai-Occidental in the Democratic Republic of Congo between May and June of 2011. Their last destination was Luanda, Angola, which they went to in November and Devember of 2011.
During thier travels these 211 interviews were conducted as supporting research and evidence for what they had heard about what was occuring in Angola. Of these 211 people, 100 were migrants; 49 women and girls, and 51 men. In the interviews they made in 2011, 57 of those interviewed were epelled from Angola, and 32 were women. Not everyone interviewed was a victim of abuse, but most had witnessed such violence. This paired with thier other research, the HRWatch provided a well-supported argument.
A wave of anger came over the Congolese as they began to learn and hear about the nature of the mass expulsions from provinces such as Zaire and Cabinda, and for the first time the DRC returned the favor by operating expulsions for Angolan citizens in thier country without proper/ regular documentation.
As the Congolese got word of more and more reports of beatings and humiliating treatment, the Congolese media used these storie to fuel the DRC's resentment against Angolans.
On September 29, 2009, DRC essentially blockaded it's border and cut off trade with Angola as a protest against the expulsions for eight days.
Many Angolans living in the Congo, even if innocent, recieved a lot of violence during this period of time.
On October 5, the DRC government demanded that any Angolan living there without proper documentation had to depart within 72 hours. The next day, Congolese immigration services began expulsions of Angolans.
In October both the DRC and Angola agreed to stop expulsions, but Angola still continued it's expulsion operations, although at first in a lesser degree.
Marogt Wallstrom, the UN Secretary General's special representative on sexual violence and conflict,organized for a monitoring project of the expulsions to be orchestrated. It would focus on protecting the migrants, and would offer the most accurate picture of the deportations and the abuses associated with them.
During the project 55,590 expulsions were recorded, with peaks in May and October. Of those expulsions there were:
- 3,770 reports of sexual and gender-based violence (rape, sexual coercion, etc)
- 12,647 instances of physical abuse (torture, beatings, deprivation of food, etc)
- 13, 626 cases of prolonged detention
- 12, 647 reports of theft