Date: October 18, 2009
Current reports indicate that there has been a moratorium on forced deportations of Angolan nationals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the situation remains critical for thousands of families who have been separated by the sudden and unexpected expulsions. Here’s a case in point:
A Congolese student pastor, Massamba Nzola, in his final year at the interdenominational Bible Institute in Kimpese, couldn’t prevent his Angolan wife, Naniyame Sophie (who has lived her whole life in the Congo), and their two small children, Kukiele David, almost 5, and Vilama Suzanne, 18 months, from being deported on October 9. This week, Massamba got word that his family was in the village of Mamarose, about 15 kilometers from the border, and he heard that Congolese nationals were being allowed to enter Angola to get their family members and return to the Congo. As soon as he could, he borrowed money and joined a group of 25 men in the same situation, at the border crossing of Lufu. They each paid the equivalent of $10 to agents on the Congolese side, and the same to agents on the Angolan side (some negotiated down to about $6), for official documents permitting the border crossing, and stating the reason. A few kilometers into Angola, at the military camp of Fiscal (the spelling may be incorrect), they were stopped by soldiers and told that no Congolese could go any further. Discussions and negotiations were to no avail, and the entire group of 25 had to return to Lufu on foot. A small measure of grace: they didn’t have to pay any more to the border agents for their return to the Congo!
The Eglise du Christ au Congo (ECC), Bas Congo, the official organization of Protestant churches in the DR Congo, issued a declaration denouncing the deportations and calling on the international community to respond to this injustice. In a recent communication, the president of ECC Bas Congo, Msr Paul Tekasala, reports that there have been fires of suspicious origin and other violent incidents against Angolans in the Congolese cities of Matadi and Boma.
My recommendation is that the international community put pressure on the Congolese and Angolan governments at the highest levels to put a stop to this unjust disruption of life which is a threat to the economic and social well-being of both countries. We are living the Congolese proverb, “When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.”