This report is an update of the COI Report of 14 June 2019. It concerns the attitude of the Congolese authorities to their returning nationals after they have left the country illegally and/or have applied for international protection in Belgium and/or have lived there. This study does not cover the treatment accorded by the authorities to returning nationals because of their political, ethnic, religious or terrorist profile.
A return to the country of origin is considered where the foreigner no longer meets the conditions required for him to stay in Belgium. That return may be voluntary or forced.
This report covers the period from May to December 2019. The literature search for this update was completed on 17 December 2019.
This report was translated from French into English by the UK Home Office. The translation was reviewed by Cedoca.
The DRC has the world’s third largest displaced population with 5.4 million persons, comprising 4.4 million internally displaced persons, 620,800 refugees and 136,400 applicants for international protection. The majority of DRC refugees were received by neighbouring countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi).
At the present time, a Justice et Paix report estimates that about 80,000 Congolese nationals live in Belgium. The Congolese come to Belgium mainly to study, for family reasons and because of lasting conflicts in the DRC. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Belgium ranked third in terms of the number of applications for international protection lodged in the European Union by Congolese nationals, after France and Greece.
Under the Kabila government, Belgium conducted campaigns in the RDC (since 2006) to prevent illegal immigration and discourage Congolese nationals from migrating and seeking international protection in Belgium. No such campaign has been organised since Felix Tshisekedi became President.
In terms of politics, relations were very strained between the two countries during the last years of the Kabila government. They have improved since the new President was sworn in at the start of 2019 and since his visit to Belgium in September 2019.
In 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed with the DRC to facilitate the return of rejected international protection seekers and illegal immigrants. According to the sources consulted, that agreement works very well in practice, and voluntary or forced returns from Belgium to the DRC have been organised for several years.
On arrival at N'djili Airport, everyone who has been forcibly returned to Kinshasa from Belgium is identified.
Catherine Ramos of the NGO Justice First is the only source to mention detentions and ill-treatment at the time of the forced repatriation of a Congolese national (coming from Great Britain). The other sources consulted do not mention such problems.
The organisation Getting the Voice Out published a statement at the time of the last collective repatriation, which was organised by Belgium to the DRC on 26 March 2019, but it does not provide any information about the reception given to Congolese nationals in their country of origin.
The report by the American Department of State says that controls take place at border posts, during which the persons (no specific profile given) can be harassed or be the victims of extortion (or detained until they pay up).
The other contacted sources (the Immigration Office, including the Immigration Officer on duty in Kinshasa and the Adviser to the Identification and Removal Unit of the Interior Control Department, and the International Organisation for Migration) do not flag up any problems encountered by voluntarily or forcibly repatriated Congolese nationals from Brussels to Kinshasa during the period under review.
Since the publication of the COI Report of June 2019, Cedoca has reported one issue of a person arrested in N'djili on his return from a stay in Belgium (and so not as part of a repatriation) because of his political profile.
The policy implemented by the Commissioner General is based on a thorough analysis of accurate and up-to-date information on the general situation in the country of origin. This information is collated in a professional manner from various, objective sources, including the EASO, the UNHCR, relevant international human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations, professional literature and coverage in the media. When determining policy, the Commissioner General does not only examine the COI Focuses written by Cedoca and published on this website, as these deal with just one aspect of the general situation in the country of origin. The fact that a COI Focus could be out-of-date does not mean that the policy that is being implemented by the Commissioner General is no longer up-to-date.
When assessing an application for asylum, the Commissioner General not only considers the actual situation in the country of origin at the moment of decision-making, he also takes into account the individual situation and personal circumstances of the applicant for international protection. Every asylum application is examined individually. An applicant must comprehensively demonstrate that he has a well-founded fear of persecution or that there is a clear personal risk of serious harm. He cannot, therefore, simply refer back to the general conditions in his country, but must also present concrete, credible and personal facts.
There is no policy paper for this country available on the website.