Over the weekend, Angolan authorities in the capital, Luanda, conducted massive sweeps of suspected illegal immigrants rounding up and detaining about 900 suspected illegal immigrants, according to a report by France 24.
State media sources have confirmed that authorities have detained a total of 884 individuals, the majority of whom are citizens of other West African countries like Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea. At least 300 Chinese expatriates were said to have been detained during the sweeps, but sources indicate a majority of them were released after talks with the Chinese embassy.
Angola’s interior ministry has issued a press statement indicating that it is cracking down on illegal immigrants and urged Angolans to report suspected illegal immigrants to the authorities.
However, a number of immigrants have indicated that the Angolan authorities were also detaining West African immigrants, who had the required permits.
An Ivorian national named Mohammed, who is now in hiding in Luanda, told France 24 of the predicament he now faces.
“We’re afraid to go outside and get picked up by the police. Many of our friends were arrested, at the mosque or in the streets. My cousin and his wife were arrested too. Yet they, like me, have their papers in order allowing them to live and work in Angola. But having papers isn’t enough to avoid going to prison here!” said Mohammed.
The situation remains tense in Luanda as immigrants wait to see whether the Angolan authorities will proceed to deport the immigrants who have been detained.
Oil-rich Angola has experienced significant economic growth for a number of years buoyed by historically-high global prices for oil. As a result, thousands of mainly-West African immigrants have relocated to Angola engaging in a host of small-scale commercial enterprises and menial labor.