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Saturday, August 15, 1998 Published at 23:31 GMT 00:31 UK


World: Africa

Kinshasa evacuees reach Brazzaville

French foreign nationals enroute to Brazzaville

Some 150 foreigners evacuated from Kinshasa by French soldiers have arrived in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville. George Ola-Davies reports

The evacuees arrived here at 7pm local time; they came aboard a French naval boat.

They included mainly Western diplomats and businessmen and their families.

They were all looking tired and worn out when they came out of the port nearly one hour after their boat docked at the main beach border. Officially, this border point remains closed.

Many of them told me they had been waiting to leave Kinshasa for the past 48 hours; they survived on sandwiches and bottled water.

The French expected to be flown out to Paris later tonight while the Lebanese will be staying with their compatriots in Brazzaville.

The other nationals will be hosted by their countries' diplomats in Brazzaville.

One Japanese diplomat told me that the majority of the 28 Japanese that came on the boat would be flown to Tokyo from Libreville.

He said the diplomats will stay in the Gabonese capital, from where they'll watch the situation in Kinshasa.

There has been French military reinforcement in the region over the last two days.

The Congolese Foreign Minister told me earlier in the day that they're expecting 600 French troops over the next couple of days, adding that their mission will be solely to evacuate foreign nationals.

He further added that the Americans will be doing the same but from the southern town of Pointe Noire.



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