Life fell apart last week for mother of four, Dorcas, who was among 200 000 Congolese attacked and then forcibly thrown out of neighboring Angola despite having lived there for a decade.
Speaking in Kamako, a frontier town in southern Democratic Republic of Congo, the woman in her forties said she and her husband had made their lives in the Angolan border town of Lupaca until the nightmare began.
“There were rumours circulating that the Angolan authorities would be expelling foreigners,” from Lunda Norte province which borders on DRC, she said.
“Suddenly, on Monday (last week), we saw youths from the Tchiokwe community with Angolan policemen starting to burn the homes of those perceived to be foreigners.
“When they came to our house, they attacked my husband with a machete and we were forced to flee taking whatever little we could carry,” she said.
“All our children were born in Angola and only speak Portuguese,” she said.
Angola was a former Portuguese colony while DR Congo was ruled by the Belgians and is a francophone country.
Oil-rich Angola attracts hordes of Congolese as it is relatively more stable and offers better employment prospects.
DR Congo has an abundance of mineral wealth but large swathes are rocked by unrest and violence unleashed by rebel groups and militias from within and neighboring nations such as Uganda and Rwanda.
The operations last week against migrants triggered clashes between Congolese, security forces and local Angolans.