DR Congo

Congo: U.N. Agency Begins Pullout After Expulsions By Govt

News and Press Release
Originally published
KINSHASA, Congo (AP-Dow Jones)--The United Nations refugee agency began
pulling its staff out of eastern Congo on Monday, three days after being
expelled by the Congolese government.

'We're leaving with all deliberate speed,' Pierce Gerety, regional director of
operations for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in Nairobi, Kenya.

Gerety said nine staff members had flown out of Goma, a town in eastern Congo,
to Kenya on Monday.

Six more staff members - including two from other agencies who are currently
working for UNHCR - were expected to leave in the next few days, he said.

On Friday, Congo ordered UNHCR workers out of eastern Congo. Interior Minister
Mwenze Kongolo accused the group at a news conference Sunday of getting involved
in internal political activities, specifically mentioning its protests over the
forced repatriation of Rwandan refugees.

Kongolo said he was awaiting a report from government officials, and several
other aid agencies may also be expelled from eastern Congo. Officials in
Kinshasa had no word Monday of further expulsions.

Gerety rejected Kongolo's accusations.

'Statements that we have been involved in their political activities are not
correct and are surprising,' he said.

Thousands of Rwandans have crossed the border into eastern Congo in recent
weeks seeking refuge from an increasingly violent insurgency in their country.
The Congolese government has begun sending them back home.