Angola will reserve the right to expel illegal Congolese immigrants, especially those who come to the African nation to take part in the diamond trade, Foreign Minister Assuncao dos Anjos said today.
His comments could spark a new wave of tit-for-tat deportations that ended this month after government officials from both sides met. Tens of thousands of people, some with nothing but their clothes, were expelled from both nations.
“It’s obvious that Angola will never give up the right to deport citizens whose actions are not beneficial to our country,” said dos Anjos, in comments on Radio Nacional de Angola.
Angola has for years targeted hundreds of thousands of impoverished Congolese immigrants who have poured across its long porous border to search for diamonds in the crocodile-infested rivers of the Lundas provinces.
But this month, the Democratic Republic of Congo responded in kind and expelled more than 20 000 Angolans. Many say they arrived in Congo during Angola’s 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and had acquired refugee status.
According to the United Nations, more than 160 000 Congolese have been expelled from Angola. Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer and is the world’s fifth biggest diamond exporter.