Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 13:55 UK

Congo and Angola 'end expulsions'

Angolans expelled from DR Congo
Aid agencies are concerned about those deported from DR Congo

Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to stop deporting each other's citizens after a spate of expulsions left thousands homeless.

Angolan authorities are struggling to cope with more than 20,000 people expelled from DR Congo in recent days.

Many had been living there for decades after fleeing Angola's long civil war.

DR Congo expelled them apparently in retaliation for Angola's regular deportation of thousands of illegal Congolese diamond miners.

The BBC's Thomas Fessy in Kinshasa says some of the expelled Congolese have reported lootings and rape while they were being forced out of Angola.

The two countries share a long, porous border which cuts through diamond-rich areas.

'Living legally'

"Congo and Angola have agreed to suspend expulsions from both sides of the border," DR Congo Information Minister Lambert Mende told the BBC.

The announcement came after Angola sent a delegation to Kinshasa to try to put an end to the problem.

There is no accommodation, no food and the rainy season is starting now
Doug Steinberg
Save the Children

Churches and other organisations are being mobilised to cope with the influx, in Angola's Zaire province.

Both countries say they have only taken action against illegal migrants.

But one of those expelled told the BBC that he had the right to be in DR Congo.

"The Congolese government is expelling all the Angolans, regardless if they are in a legal situation or not," he said.

Our reporter says some families have been separated by the expulsions.

Mr Mende said DR Congo would investigate reports that legal migrants had been deported.

Save the Children Angola head Doug Steinberg told the BBC that they visited the town of Luvo, near the border where 16,000 expelled Angolans had gathered.

"There are a lot of children and the conditions are bad," he said.

"There is no accommodation, no food and the rainy season is starting now. They are staying in schools."

Local government official Francisco Comba told Angolan news agency Angop that local authorities had started to supply food, tents, clothes and kitchen utensils to the deportees.

He said the government was working to relocate them to their home districts.

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