Almost 12,000 DRC nationals living in the coastal city of Pointe-Noire have returned home.
The authorities in Congo Brazzaville are pursuing their policy of expelling foreigners from neighbouring countries without papers. Radio France Internationale, RFI reports that almost 10,000 Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, citizens living in Pointe-Noire have gone back home in just over 10 days after the latest operation began.
More than half of the deportees are young people who were living with their parents in Congo Brazzaville's economic capital. According to DRC authorities, the recent announcement by Congolese police of plans to deport illegal aliens led to the ongoing exodus. Observers note that last month's parley between Interior Ministers from both countries to douse concerns arising from earlier expulsions does not seem to have produced the expected results.
For example, the promised joint commission of inquiry to look into petitions of human rights abuses during the deportations is yet to see the light of day. The authorities in Kinshasa say they are still waiting for a date to be fixed in order to begin work with their Congolese counterparts. Moreover, the agreement reached between the two sides has not yet been ratified by the two countries as their citizens are still required to produce visas before entering into either country.
Sequel to the furore over the expulsion of almost 140,000 Democratic Republic of Congo nationals from Congo Brazzaville earlier this year, the two countries on June 3, 2014, signed a new free movement of people agreement to replace that of 1999. According to the terms, people living along the 1,300 km-long frontier can henceforth cross from one side to the other for a maximum of three days with a laissez-passer or national identity card.
Nationals of either country living far from the border can cross over with a passport and visa. Meanwhile, those wishing to live and work in either country must have a passport and work permit. Observers however note that it remains to be seen how the agreement will be applied in the case of workers in the informal sector like traders and builders.
Congo's Interior Minister, Raymond Mboulou and his DRC counterpart, Richard Muyej, promised that compensation will be paid to proven victims of abuses. Mboulou promised that the cases of all deportees will be reviewed, especially if they were workers. He also pledged that any future deportations will only be carried out after informing the authorities in Kinshasa. He however vowed that those found to be involved in criminal activities will continue to be expelled.