A file picture taken on April 29, 2014 shows people from the DRC waiting to board government-run buses as they arrive with their belongings from neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville after being forcefully deported, at Ngobila beach, near Kinshasa. Picture: JUNIOR D KANNAH

The United Nations on Monday demanded that Congo-Brazzaville stop forcibly returning people to the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UN said Congo-Brazzaville had deported more than 130 000 DRC nationals since April 4, creating an “acute humanitarian crisis”.

The police in the capital Brazzaville on April 3 launched an operation to drive out illegal foreign workers.

The prime targets have been citizens from the neighbouring DRC, whose capital Kinshasa lies on the other side of the Congo river from Brazzaville.

The conflict-ridden DR Congo ranks last on the United Nations development index and over the years tens of thousands have found menial jobs in Brazzaville, where living conditions are slightly better.

“The United Nations has received reports of physical abuse, ill treatment, and sexual violence inflicted on the citizens of DRC who are being expelled,” it said in a statement.

The UN said Martin Kobler, head of its MONUSCO mission on the DRC, had expressed his concerns after visiting a transit camp on the outskirts Kinshasa where several thousand expelled people were gathered.

“I heard numerous testimonies of victims of gross human rights abuses and cruel treatments,” he said.

“I heard stories of children drowning in the river during their forced crossing. I saw a man injured by bullets and mothers who had given birth alone on the shore of the Congo River. All that has to stop,” he said. - AFP