Daily Archives: October 21, 2018

Angola Says 380,000 Illegal Migrants Exit in weeks

About 380,000 illegal migrants, mostly from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, have left Angola in less than a month during a massive operation targeting diamond smuggling, a minister said Saturday.
On a visit to Dundo in northern Angola on the border with DR Congo, Pedro Sebastiao dismissed allegations that the migrants had been violently expelled and often beaten by police.
Sebastiao, a state minister and the head of presidential security who is in charge of the operation, told traveling reporters that diamonds worth more than $1 million had been seized.
He said that the migrants had all left voluntarily, and 231 premises for illegal diamond trading had been closed and 59 weapons seized.
“Angola is a democratic and lawful state,” he said. “It must be made clear that ‘Operation Transparency’ is not based on any xenophobic sentiment against citizens of neighboring countries or any other nationality.”
Speaking at the Chitato border post, he said the crackdown across northern and western Angola was “legitimate” and was to ensure that the country’s diamond reserves were correctly exploited.
There was “illegal immigration and the plundering of our natural resources without any contribution to the treasury,” he said, adding the operation was scheduled to continue for two years.
After pouring across the border in recent weeks, many Congolese have described being brutally thrown out of Angola after sometimes living there for more than 10 years.
‘Left with almost nothing’
Migrants who had crossed back to the frontier town of Kamako told AFP this week that their houses had been burnt by police and gangs of Angolan youths, and some had been attacked with machetes and beaten as they fled.
With 1,000 arrivals crossing some border posts every hour, many have been left in DRC Congo without shelter and adequate food and water as authorities struggle to cope.
“During displacement, DRC nationals have experienced violence and human rights abuses, and many have arrived with almost nothing,” ACAPS, an humanitarian crisis group, said in a briefing note.
“Although the Angolan government claims all returns are voluntary, there have been reports of forced returns,” it added.
This week DR Congo threatened to take international action against Angola over the allegedly violent expulsions.
Clashes have been reported between Congolese, Angolan security forces and local Angolans in several provinces especially in Lunda Norte, which borders on DRC.
Local media and an NGO reported that several migrants have been killed.
Oil-rich Angola attracts hordes of Congolese as it is relatively stable and offers better employment prospects.
DR Congo has an abundance of mineral wealth but is rocked by unrest unleashed by rebel groups and militias from within and neighboring nations such as Uganda and Rwanda.
Angola and DR Congo share a 2,500-kilometer (1,550-mile) land border, the longest in Africa.

Source: Voice of America

Ethiopian Marathoner who Made Rio Protest Returns from Exile

The Ethiopian marathon runner who made global headlines with an anti-government gesture at the Rio Olympics finish line returned from exile on Sunday after sports officials assured him he will not face prosecution.
Feyisa Lilesa’s return from the United States came several months after a reformist prime minister took office and announced sweeping political reforms. He received a warm welcome at the airport from the foreign minister and other senior officials.

Feyisa said the new government is “a result of the struggle by the people” and he hopes it will address concerns after years of repression in Africa’s second most populous nation.

The silver medalist crossed his wrists at the finish line in 2016 in solidarity with protesters in his home region, Oromia, who like many across Ethiopia were demanding wider freedoms.

Feyisa later said he feared he would be imprisoned or killed if he returned home. But he became a symbol of resistance for many youth until the pressure on the government led to a change of power, with 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office in April. Abiy is the country’s first leader from the Oromia-based Oromo ethnic group.
Ethiopia’s government did not immediately comment Sunday on the runner’s return.

Asked by The Associated Press if he has any political ambitions, Feyisa said: “I don’t have any ambition in politics! Actually I didn’t get close to politics, politics gets close to me.”

Feyisa broke down in tears while speaking about youth who lost their lives during the years of protests. “I will continue to remember those who lost their lives for the cause. Many people lost their lives for it.”

Turning his attention to running, he said his next race will be the Dubai Marathon in January.

“My training while I was in exile was not good, so it has affected my performance,” Feyisa said. He missed two races in recent weeks as he prepared to return to Ethiopia. “I will resume my regular training after a week.”

Source: Voice of America