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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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: Peace Monitor, VI, 12

Angola: Peace Monitor, VI, 12
Date distributed (ymd): 000905
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+ +economy/development+
Summary Contents:
This issue of the Angola Peace Monitor covers recent developments in the war, efforts to reform the economy, and efforts to cope with a revival in Angola of trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).

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Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA
Issue no.12, Vol. VI 1st September 2000

The Angola Peace Monitor is produced every month by ACTSA - Action for Southern Africa. ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA, Britain. e-mail, fax +44 20 7837 3001, telephone +44 20 7833 3133. Back issues of the Angola Peace Monitor are available on the World Wide Web at:

Government advances - UNITA counter

The Angolan government has continued to make territorial advances against Jonas Savimbi's rebel-movement UNITA. However, the rebels have also continued to attack people and property in the government-controlled areas. UNITA are no longer in a position to threaten to take over the country, but by making much of the country unsafe they are succeeding in their campaign to deny hundreds of thousands of people the right to live in their homes and work their land.

This follows the pattern of recent months with FAA pursuing and defeating the large concentrations of UNITA fighters, whilst UNITA has continued to launch hit and run attacks. Whilst these attacks by UNITA can be considered to be part and parcel of "classic guerilla warfare", FAA is making headway in denying the rebels two necessities for a successful guerilla campaign - safe havens and a secure rear base from which it can get its supplies.

According to the United Nations there has been conflict in eight of the country's 18 provinces, namely in Bie, Cuando Cubango, Huambo, Uige, Kuito, Bengo, Huila and Lunda Sul provinces.

Reliable sources state that the Angolan army, FAA, has advanced from Cuemba in Bie Province, which it captured in June. The army has reported that it killed 34 UNITA soldiers in military operations around Cuemba at the beginning of August. It is believed that Jonas Savimbi fled from Cuemba to the south and is now moving between south west and south east of Luena. Operations are currently underway around Mungo in Huambo province and Mussende in Bie province, where large amounts of ammunition have been captured from UNITA.

However, it is evident from reports from humanitarian agencies that there is still conflict in areas in the central highlands that were captured from UNITA up to a year ago. The World Food Programme has reported that there has been a large influx of new refugees from Cambandua, Chicala, Gamba, Chinguar and Cuningha to the city of Kuito. It also reports an influx of a thousand new refugees coming into Kuito from N'harea. A report by Reuters on 22 August states that seven people were killed and another seven kidnapped near N'harea recently.

In the north of the country the World Food Programme states that there has been a fresh wave of people fleeing insecurity in Buengas, Milunga and Quimbele to the town of Sanza Pombo in Uige province. It also reports that 200 new refugees have reached Saurimo in Lunda Sul province from Muambulo.

In Huambo province, the UN reports that a thousand people have fled the town of Longonjo during the past two months. There has also been a large movement of people in Moxico province, with around 2,000 people moving to safer, government controlled areas.

De Beers announced on 18 August that it has suspended diamond exploration at its site in Cambulo in Lunda Norte province due to insecurity. The announcement follows an attack by 60 UNITA soldiers on an unrelated diamond mine near Camafuca in Lunda Norte on 7 August. During the raid UNITA kidnapped seven and killed a South African security consultant. A nearby mine in Casamba was also attacked.

There has also been fighting in the Cazombo salient. Cazombo is one of the last towns held by UNITA, and there is a large concentration of UNITA soldiers in the surrounding areas. On 28 August a UNHCR spokesperson stated that 565 refugees had recently arrived in Zambia from Cazombo.

In a further sign that there are clashes in the Cazombo salient, Zambia complained on 29 August that two bombs had exploded in the border town of Jimbe, and that many others had exploded on the Angolan side of the border. Angola's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joao Pedro, told the AFP news agency that Zambia should have taken the matter to the bilateral security and defence commission before making a public statement on the allegation.

The fighting in the Cazombo salient is part of the government's strategy to secure the Zambian border, and in the longer term to contain UNITA between Cazombo and the central highlands.

Whilst the government now controls over 92 percent of Angola (see APM no.11 vol.VI), UNITA have continued to launch hit and run attacks throughout much of the country. It has also stepped up its use of landmines to make travel on roads dangerous.

On 7 August a gang of around 250 UNITA soldiers attacked the town of Catete, Bengo province, which is about 65km from Luanda. During the attack four people were killed, and food was stolen from the Catholic mission. The gang withdrew when the Angolan army reinforcements arrived. The army states that it killed ten UNITA rebels in the counter-attack.

UNITA have also continued to attack civilians in northern Namibia. On 29 August UNITA shot dead a 66 year-old man, Gabriel Nzowo. The five rebels also stole food from the dead man's house in the Kuvango region. It is estimated that more than fifty people have been murdered in recent months in northern Namibia. In a recent incident, a landmine killed a farmworker and injured 47 others in Omega in the Caprivi region.

The continued violence by UNITA has put even greater strain on humanitarian relief efforts. As the rainy season approaches, WFP warns that the food pipeline remains weak with contributions amounting to only half of the total requirements. The UN organisation has begun to place food in regional centres in preparation for the rain. Storage facilities in Kuito city have been increased so that stocks can be built up, as heavy rain results in the closure of the airport. A similar move is underway at Luena in Moxico province.

The European Union has announced that it is to grant $8 million to assist with the rehabilitation programme in Huambo province. The road between Huambo, Caala, Ekunha, Longonjo, Ukuma and Tchindjendje is to be repaired, and there will be assistance for health, education, administration, and agriculture.

SADC ministers target UNITA

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) home affairs ministers on 4 August in Malawi met with police chiefs from the region and discussed, inter alia, violations of mandatory United Nations sanctions against UNITA.

After the meeting it was announced that the heads of police in the SADC region will soon meet in Angola to discuss ways of tightening the implementation of sanctions.

UN appoint head of UNOA

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, announced on 31 July that he has appointed Mussagy Jeichande as his Representative and Head of the UN Office in Angola (UNOA). UNOA was formally established in October 1999, but it has taken until now to appoint a head.

Mussagy Jeichande is a Mozambican who was the country's first ambassador to South Africa. He is a qualified lawyer who worked at Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to his appointment to the senior UN post.

Angolan economic growth fails to relieve poverty

The International Monetary Fund has revealed that the Angolan economy has been growing at an average annual rate of 6.5 percent over the last five years. However, the growth has been mainly in the petroleum industry, bypassing the majority of the population.

In an interview with the Pan African News Agency, Jose Pedro de Morais from the Fund stated that the state of the economy was largely determined by the war. The economy shrank by 25 percent in 1993 when UNITA relaunched the war, and it did not recover to its pre-war level until 1996.

An IMF report obtained by Reuters warned that because of Angola's debt profile and its dependence on oil and diamonds, along with the damage inflicted by the war, reform "will need to be sustained over the longer term and eventually supported by concessional resources and debt relief from external creditors".

The report warns that over the past decade per capita income, in terms of US dollars, has more than halved, and that there have been three bouts of hyper-inflation.

On the positive side, the report points out that Angola has received a higher than expected price for its crude oil, averaging $26.40 a barrel this year compared with $20.70 assumed in the reform programme agreed between the Angolan government and the IMF. Typically, the IMF assumes that any unexpected revenue from oil would go to increase bank deposits or foreign reserves, rather than to increase social spending.

Angola's economy looks set to receive a further boost soon with the allocation of a 50 percent share in Block 34 and the right to operate in Block 16. The IMF expects the winners of the bidding war to pay the Angolan government around $150 million in signature bonuses, although others expect the signature bonuses to reach a staggering $300 million.

However, the non-oil sectors of the Angolan economy are in a terrible state. The war has stopped much of the country's agriculture, and the almost complete breakdown in the market has made the economy seize up. Many commentators have also questioned whether the revenue from oil is being used properly by the state, and part of the work of the IMF in Angola will be to oversee the regularisation of accountancy practice in the state budget (although it now looks as if the World Bank will have overall responsibility for the audit).

The state of the economy is also causing concern in the Angolan government, who have set up an interministerial commission to produce a document on poverty reduction. The commission is to be coordinated by the Vice-Minister of Planning, Eduardo Severim de Morais.

In a related move, the influential non-governmental organisation, the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation, FESA, held a conference from 22 - 26 August in Luanda to discuss the setting up of a plan similar to the Marshall Plan for western Europe following the Second World War. Amongst the presentations at the FESA conference on the subject was by John Flynn - former British Ambassador to Angola and a member of the advisory board of the British-Angola Forum - and Hans Abrahamssom and Anders Nilsson from Gothenburg University.

The Angolan government has agreed with the IMF that it must reach certain economic targets by the end of the year before a full staff monitored programme can be put in place. By the end of the year its inflation must be reduced to 120 percent, down from the current rate of over 400 percent. There must also be a tightening of monetary policy. There has also been an agreement to allow the World Bank to oversee the auditing of the oil account by a major international accountancy firm.

These benchmarks are viewed as ambitious by many international commentators, with a number of donor governments strongly emphasising meeting them as a key test of the government's stated commitment to reform over the period.

In return for Angola to following the IMF's preferred policies, there will be the opportunity to restructure the country's debts towards cheaper, longer-term loans. There will also be access to "soft loans" from institutions such as the World Bank.

British Airways moves delayed

Hopes that British Airways could begin flying into Luanda as early as October were proved unfounded when a planned signing of a bilateral airflight agreement between Britain and Angola failed to materialise following a meeting in London in August.

In July Peter Hain, Britain's Minister of State covering Africa at the Foreign Office, visited Angola, where he signed a UK/Angola Memorandum of Understanding on Air Services. It was hoped that this paved the way for a full bilateral airflight agreement to be signed in September ending the long-running discussions on the issue. However, when British Airways subsequently met with the Angolan national airline, TAAG, no agreement was reached.

The provisional agreement was that Britain be allocated two flight slots per week, however the Angolan side is now returning to the negotiating position of only discussing one flight. British Airways has made clear that it is unable to run a profitable route with only one flight per week.

Sources indicate that Air France's most profitable route is the Paris/Luanda flight. Air France has been collaborating very closely with the TAAG in technical and other areas. It is now to be seen whether the vested interests in TAAG with close links to Air France, who have been blamed for the delays in reaching a final agreement with British Airways, will be overruled by more powerful political forces in Angola.

War fosters revival of deadly disease

A new method of treating the deadly illness, trypanosomiasis, has undergone trials in Angola which it is hoped will help fight the disease which has hit more than one hundred thousand people.

One of the under-reported facets of the destruction caused by UNITA and its backers during the long war has been the re-appearance of the deadly African trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness. In its latter stages sleeping sickness has horrific symptoms similar to severe mental illness, and is ultimately fatal.

In Angola sleeping sickness was almost entirely wiped out by the end of the 1960s following a regime of active screening of the population at risk, supported by tsetse trapping and spraying of pesticides. However, the war has disrupted the fight against the disease. Health programmes were hit both in terms of economic resources available and because it was not safe for health staff to travel throughout the country. In countless cases, health workers were targeted and murdered by UNITA. Over the last decade it has returned with a vengeance and currently more than one hundred thousand people are infected with the disease. Without treatment these people will die, and without a large-scale programme to hit back at the tsetse fly, which carries the parasite, many more will follow.

Sleeping sickness is spread by tsetse flies infected with the protozoa. If it is not treated by the time patients have reached the second stage of the illness - where the neurological disturbances show themselves - treatment is very difficult and dangerous. The form taken in Angola, trypanosoma brucei gambiense, is a chronic disease taking several years to reach the advanced stage.

Sufferers fear treatment

A further problem in the treatment of the illness is the worldwide lack of appropriate drugs. The treatments available are based on old drugs which have horrific side effects. The huge multi-national pharmaceutical drug companies spend billions of dollars searching for cures to common, non life-threatening, problems faced by people in the wealthy parts of the world, but do not see a good profit in researching and developing new, improved, drugs for poor people in poor countries.

The most commonly used treatment of sleeping sickness is an arsenic-based drug, melarsoprol. The drug was introduced in 1949, and although it is a life-saver, is dangerous and painful when injected. Its side effects kill five to ten percent of those treated. In addition the drug is ineffective in up to a fifth of patients.

The other effective drug for sleeping sickness in its latter stages is eflornithine. The original manufacturer recently stopped producing it, and is now being produced by ILEX-Oncology, which has offered to produce it for the WHO at a cost of $750 per patient. A course of melarsoprol costs about $150.

Pioneering work with melarsoprol

Despite the severe drawbacks, melarsoprol remained the most common drug for the treatment of sleeping sickness in Angola. This has led a group of doctors to look for ways of improving the treatment regimen.

The work has been carried out by several researchers, headed by Dr Christian Burri, and received funding and assistance from the Angolan National Program for Trypanosomiasis Control, World Health Organisation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Swiss Tropical Institute, Swiss Humanitarian Aid and Norwegian Peoples Aid.

The current Angolan schedule for treatment is a 26-day course of melarsoprol injections. However, this is a hard burden on the patient who suffers severe pain with each injection, and a big burden on the patient's family, who must be present to look after the patient and provide food.

The researchers set out a new, more intensive, schedule of ten daily injections, which represents a thirty percent reduction in drug requirement. The trial took place in Dondo, Kwanza Norte province. It was concluded that the new drug regimen was a useful alternative to the 26-day treatment schedule, especially in epidemic situations and in locations with limited resources.

Need for screening and prevention

Work is also being done on the need to screen the at risk population, to enable early treatment of the illness. However, it is estimated that there is a need for 22 mobile teams in Angola - currently there are only five.

There are also efforts to capture tsetse flies, and in Zaire province traps are being placed. According to Mariano Gaspar, director of health in Nzeto municipality, 100,000 tsetse flies were captured in traps in the first six months of the year.

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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