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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Angola: Updates

Angola: Updates
Date distributed (ymd): 000731
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains a report by the UN's Integrated Regional Information Service, as well as excerpts from the 26 July issue of the Angola Peace Monitor. The reports highlight the continuation of war, the underfunding of humanitarian relief efforts, and a churchsponsored peace congress in Luanda attended by over 200 people, including representatives of the government, legal opposition parties and civil society as well as churches. For additional updates see the Peace Monitor archives
( and the Angola Peace Action Network updates from Canada's Inter-Church Coalition on Africa (

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ANGOLA: IRIN Focus on peace meeting

[The material contained here is from IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

LUANDA, 21 July (IRIN) - A Church-sponsored Congress for Peace opened this week in Luanda. While it may not bring an immediate end to the Angolan conflict, most participants agreed that the four-day meeting has taken the country one step closer to peace. The Congress, a Catholic church initiative which began on Tuesday, uniquely brought together civil society groups, a wide cross-section of church members, opposition politicians and officials from the governing MPLA party.

A unique event

"For the first time in the last 40 years, we have a congress and a debate that has broken the tradition of big problems being discussed by only the MPLA and UNITA," said Jaka Jamba, a UNITA politician and second vice president of the National Assembly.

Eleven speeches covered a range of issues deemed crucial to bring peace to Angola. Democracy, Christianity, tolerance, human rights, journalism and the psychology of aggression were among the subjects explored and discussed. According to Fernando Macedo, a human rights activist and consultant for the US organisation, World Learning, the fact that the government permitted a debate about peace to take place in Angola reveals an important shift in position.

"Two years ago," said Macedo, "it was a kind of crime to speak and to pronounce the word 'peace'. Today, people here are losing fear. We are stating publicly that we want peace. This is a dynamic process."

Even some of the MPLA party's strongest critics seemed enthused by the Congress and the notable participation of the government.

"The government is listening," said Abel Chivukuvuku, an independent UNITA politician. "We should prioritise the fact that the government is here even if there are still individuals in the government who are against this initiative."

No change?

The official government line nevertheless remains in favour of a military solution to UNITA's insurgency. Lately, tension between the Catholic church and the government has increased. This seemed evident last month when the MPLA secretary-general, Joao Lourenco, described advocates of peace and dialogue as "false prophets". On Tuesday, an editorial in the state-owned newspaper, 'Jornal de Angola', also appeared to criticise the initiative of the Catholic church and other peace movements.

"The government has been left with no alternative: Either it would make war or it would passively witness the collapse of an entire nation," the editorial stated. "If sectors of civil society are today gathering around a peace movement, that's because Angola's Armed Forces' military campaign positively altered the correlation of forces at a military level."

On Thursday, a debate in the National Assembly about the military situation concluded that the government's military option is still necessary, despite the alternative of dialogue proposed by the on-going Congress. Some participants at the peace meeting believed this revealed that to some extent, the Congress had failed.

"The position the government took yesterday is that the end of the war is close and therefore, it is necessary to continue with the war to end the war," said Luis do Nascimento, lawyer and secretary general of the opposition party, the Front for Democracy (FpD). "Given that position, we can think that the Congress did not succeed."

The government's view

Angola's minister for education and culture, Antonio Burity da Silva Neto, stressed that the government has done all it can to end the war with rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi. He referred to a speech made last month by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, in which the head of state admitted the possibility of pardoning Savimbi.

"If you put out a hand to pardon and if the man [Savimbi] does not correspond, what should I think?" the minister said. "We've already explored all types of dialogue and negotiations. Sometimes, we've felt we've arrived at the finish. But there is always someone who breaks this understanding."

Da Silva, who represented President Jose Eduardo dos Santos throughout the Congress for Peace, nevertheless said he had enjoyed the four-day meeting and that the government has participated openly and willingly.

"We are here to help the Congress. The people are speaking and we are also listening to what they are saying," he explained. "What I have learned is what is my doctrine - that we must love each other, that we can live in harmony and that we must really end this war."

Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA
Issue no.11, Vol. VI, 26th July 2000
Note: excerpts only; for full text see

[The Angola Peace Monitor is produced every month by ACTSA - Action for Southern Africa. ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, e-mail, fax +44 20 7837 3001, telephone +44 20 7833 3133.]

Angolan army advances

The Angolan army, FAA, have made further territorial gains against Jonas Savimbi's rebel movement - UNITA. The government now claims to control 92 percent of Angola's 157 districts, including eleven of the thirteen districts in the two main diamond producing provinces of Lunda Sul and Lunda Norte.

UNITA is left in control of about a dozen districts, including Cazombo in Moxico province, although military sources suggest that the area is almost deserted. According to the United Nations, UNITA has its mobile command headquarters in Quirima and Sautar in Malange province. In Lunda Norte UNITA are reported to be hanging on to the districts of Lubalo and Cuilo, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, an interview with UNITA deserters carried by the Angolan news agency, ANGOP, states that in the Lundas it is very difficult for UNITA to get fuel for the extraction of diamonds.

In Bie province, the UNITA stronghold of Cuemba fell to FAA at the end of June. Cuemba had been under UNITA control for twelve years, and it is here that many of Savimbi's troops retreated to after the fall of Andulo and Bailundo in September 1999. The capture of Cuemba is one of the central goals of FAA's "Operation Hexagon". The army's 5th Brigade launched its attack from the government held city of Luena, and fought UNITA along the main highway westwards, capturing Chicala, Cangumbe and Cangonga. Another major battle took place at Munhango, and from there UNITA was chased to Cuemba, where the rebels suffered heavy casualties.

The "control" the government has over 92 percent of districts does not infer normality in all these areas. In many cases it means that either the army or police have control of the district towns, and most of the surrounding area - at least during the day. Many districts recently recaptured do not yet have a civilian administrator, and are almost like occupied territories. There has been criticism of human rights abuses by the army and police in newly retaken towns. However, the latest report to the United Nations Security Council by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan (S/2000/678), states that the police have improved their human rights record recently (whilst he still warns of reports of continued individual acts of abuse). ...

The danger still posed by Jonas Savimbi should not be underestimated. There continues to be attacks in much of the country, including within areas considered to be Government strongholds.

The UN's humanitarian arm, OCHA, warned recently that the security situation remained unstable in seven of Angola's 18 provinces, namely Kwanza Norte, Uige, Huambo, Kuito, Cuando Cubango, Moxico and Lunda Sul. The report warned that "guerrilla activities continue, with armed rebels attacking towns and villages in several provinces. The location and timing of the attacks, which often include looting, physical assaults and destruction of crops and homes are unpredictable". ...

UN panel to monitor sanctions

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has appointed a panel of experts to carry out further investigations into violations of sanctions against UNITA. The panel is to be given six months to investigate further into allegations raised by the first panel of experts (see APM no.7 vol.VI).

The idea of setting up a follow-on panel was agreed by the UN Security Council in April, and it was supposed to report by 18 October. However, internal wrangling over who to appoint led to the long delay in establishing the panel including a fierce campaign by France behind the scenes against proposed members they felt might be too critical of some Francophone countries involved in sanctions busting. The delay has raised the fear that many of the previous leads may now have gone cold.

The panel is to be chaired by Juan Larrain of Chile, and also comprises of Christine Gordon of Britain; James Manzou of Zimbabwe; Ismail Sekh of Senegal and Lena Sundh of Sweden. ...

Humanitarian situation deteriorates

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, has published a mid-term review for Angola, which warns that the overall situation in the country remains precarious, and aid resources are running scarce.

It warns that two million people are relying on food aid, and that in coming months this number may rise to 2.75 million. In addition, the country faces a structural emergency, with a breakdown in social services that jeopardise heath and education of vulnerable groups.

The report estimates that there are 2.5 million internally displaced people in Angola, 20 percent of the population, and of these more than 217,500 had been displaced since the beginning of the year. On a positive note, 32,800 people had returned home in Bie, Kwanza Norte, Huila and Lunda Sul provinces.

The report explains that road links between provincial capitals remain insecure in the central and eastern parts of the country and that more than 70 percent of all humanitarian assistance is currently transported by air because of restricted road routes.

This raises the twin problems for delivering humanitarian aid of high delivery costs and delays due to airstrip closures for repairs.

OCHA said in an effort to "minimise hardship" during the lean months of September and October, the World Food Programme has reduced by a fifth the number of people receiving direct food aid assistance in June and July.

The UN agency notes that in partnership with the government, a campaign to distribute agricultural inputs is to start in September and October.

The report warns that health remains the most under-funded sector in the humanitarian programme. Hospitals and health posts are under-staffed, under-funded and in need of basic equipment, with malaria, diarrhoea and tuberculosis prevalent throughout the country.

OCHA warned that the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for the year 2000 had so far only received 40 percent of requirements, leading to projects being abandoned. Only three of the 29 projects submitted by UN agencies had been fully funded. As a result, 14 projects are being dropped altogether.

As of June, the World Food Programme had received just 44 percent of its request for $203,738,561, leading to fears that by September there may be a breakdown in the food pipeline. OCHA received 43.8 percent of the $5,712,680 it had requested; UNICEF received 27 percent of $21,727,000; WHO received 61 percent of $1,387,540; Food and Agriculture Organisation received 10.5 percent of $10,366,000. United Nations Development Programme 1.4 percent of $4,250,642; and UN Fund for Population Activities received 9.6 percent of $2,397,331.

UNHCR launch appeal

The OCHA report was released just before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 20 July launched an appeal for $8.4 million for and emergency assistance programme for Angola. The UNHCR plans to concentrate in Uige, Zaire and Luanda where 300,000 people have fled the war.

The UNHCR project will prioritise basic health and nutrition (US$ 815,000), water and sanitation (US$ 710,040), shelter (US$ 411,875), essential household materials (US$ 691,000), transport and logistics (US$ 1.6 million), and is to last six months. The appeal follows a UNHCR assessment mission to Uige, Zaire and Luanda in March.

UNHCR's program will gradually shift to long-term activities, such as strengthening local capacity-building, education, training and some income-generating projects.

UNHCR's current work in Angola has been severely affected by the hit and run attacks of UNITA. On 28 June Kris Janowski of UNHCR said that operations were practically suspended in northern Angola due to the grave security situation. The situation was particularly bad in Uige province, where UNITA had made the road between Negage and Uige impassable.

The air corridor was the only safe route to the region, and Uige airport is closed. According to the Air Navigation Company, ENANA, on 21 July, the runway at Uige is in an advanced state of degradation after 31 years without repair. As a result, flights were going in to Negage, 40 km away. However, the road between the cities was not safe. ...

Diamond industry to clean up act

In what is being seen as a major victory for campaigners against conflict diamonds, international diamond industry has agreed to take steps to ensure that in future diamonds will not fund groups trying to overthrow legitimate governments and breach sanctions, such as UNITA.

At the World Diamond Congress, which took place in Antwerp from 17 to 19 July, the International Diamond Manufacturers' Association and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses agreed to establish a system of certificates of origin to identify the provenance of diamonds.

Two key figures central to efforts to crack down on UNITA's diamond smuggling, Britain's Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Peter Hain, and Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Fowler, spoke at the conference.

The agreement states that anyone trading in illicit diamonds will be expelled from the industry, and that any country knowingly involved in smuggling will lose its export accreditation.

Under the proposals, all rough diamonds are to be exported in sealed packages certified by the authorities in the exporting nations and verified by a new international diamond council, made up of governments, industry and non-governmental organisations.

In response to the agreement, a group of non-governmental organisations present at the congress, including Action for Southern Africa, released a joint statement welcoming the proposals for reform, noting that these proposals will go a long way to meeting many of the concerns about conflict diamonds.

However, the groups warn that there is still much to be done, and called for definitive progress on establishing working mechanisms by mid-September. The international certification mechanism has still to be established and the necessary regulations enacted by governments, along with the independent monitoring of the international flow of diamonds.

Complementary steps underway

After the Antwerp meeting, a working group of senior government representatives of key diamond producing and trading nations met at Lancaster House in London on 20 July, as a follow up to the conference that took place in Kimberley, South Africa in May (see APM no.9 vol.VI). The meeting was chaired by the South African Department of Minerals and Energy and was attended by, amongst others, Angola's Vice-Minister of Mines, Carlos Sumbula.

The meeting achieved further progress in developing measures of government regulation to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, but resistance to genuinely comprehensive measures by some countries means that further work will need to be undertaken to finalise proposals to be considered by a ministerial meeting planned for September in South Africa.

World Bank approves credit

In another step towards more regularised access to the world's financial institutions, the Angolan government has been given the go-ahead to borrow money for social development. The World Bank has approved a credit line worth $33 million to be channelled through the International Development Agency (IDA) for the implementation of the second project of the Fund for Social Support (FAS). The fund was set up in October 1994 and is implemented by an autonomous governmental agency. Its aim is to combat poverty and social exclusion, through integrating the poorest populations into the process of reconstruction and socio-economic development.

FAS currently operates in the provinces of Cabinda, Luanda, Bengo, Kwanza-Sul, Benguela, Huila, Huambo, Namibe, Bie and Cunene, in the construction and rehabilitation of schools, health posts, wells and latrines.

According to the World Bank the new project will be a follow-on of an earlier project which helped over one million poor people in Angola. The government and other donors will finance the project with an additional $14 million.

Clean water project

The standing commission of Angola's council of ministers at the end of June authorised a $54 million project for the second phase of the water supply project for the south west of Luanda. Water has not been pumped to these outskirts of Luanda for over 20 years.

The first phase of this project is due to be completed in August, producing over 200,000 cubic metres of treated water for about 600,000 people living mainly in the Neves Bendinhas and Terra Nova suburbs, as well as improving the supply to the city centre. ...

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC provides accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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