About 380,000 illegal migrants, mostly from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have left Angola in less than a month during a massive operation targeting diamond smuggling, a minister said on Saturday.
On a visit to Dundo in northern Angola on the border with DRC, 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 travelling reporters that diamonds worth more than $1m 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 neighbouring 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.