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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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: Recent Documents

Angola: Recent Documents
Date distributed (ymd): 990313
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains a report from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) on the humanitarian situation in Angola, as well as excerpts from the most recent Angola Peace Monitor. For additional updates see Africa News (

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IRIN special focus on worsening humanitarian situation

Contact IRIN-SA (Tel: +27 11 880 4633, e-mail for more information or free subscriptions.

[This item is delivered in the "irin-english" service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information or free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or fax: +254 2 622129 or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

HUAMBO, Angola, 3 March (IRIN) - Huambo, Angola's second city, used to be a town noted for its architecture and the flowering tropical plants which it produced for export. Today most of its buildings are in ruins or scarred by battles past, its roads pot-holed and rutted, and the population tense, hungry and demoralised.

Like most of Angola's government-controlled provincial capitals, Huambo some 500 km southeast of the capital Luanda, is under siege, cut off from the outside world by roads too dangerous to use, minefields around its perimeter, and enemy forces of the UNITA rebel movement led by Jonas Savimbi as close as 30 km away.

Wandering around these ruins it is difficult to tell who is a local resident and who has fled here from recent fighting. Huambo's estimated 300,000 residents have to share limited resources with tens of thousands seeking shelter. The town's plight is symptomatic of much of the rest of Angola. Francesco Strippoli, the UN humanitarian coordinator and WFP representative in Angola, said that since April last year, over 600,000 people had been displaced around the country and that their number was now bound to increase. The war in Angola resumed with renewed fighting last December which scuppered the UN-brokered Lusaka Protocol peace accords.

"I am extremely pessimistic because the country continues to be affected by fighting and new displacements," he said. "On the other hand, we are not only concerned about people who have been displaced, but by the situation of the general population at large in cities under siege."

According to UN officials in Angola, humanitarian agencies do not have access to half the country and it has been difficult to provide a complete breakdown of the suffering. But OCHA figures, submitted to the Security Council over recent months, estimate that some 30 percent of the country's population do not have access to safe drinking water; about 40 percent of the population has no access to health services and only six percent of the eligible population finish the sixth grade.

UNICEF figures show that Angolans experience an under-five mortality rate of nearly 30 percent, and a maternal mortality rate of 1,280 per 100,000 live births which it says "are among the worst in the world".

In recent days, there were reports that the government was preparing to attack Savimbi's stronghold in Bailundo just 80 km to the north of Huambo. It is feared that would in a further influx of people. People were entering after fighting in Longonjo, 80 km to the west, and Ekunha, just 40 km northwest of the town. Many of them looked hungry and the UCAH representative said one of her biggest concerns was growing malnutrition. At Caala, just 20 km away, there are regular battles.

Every evening, after the 6 p.m. night curfew starts, shooting can be heard, and soldiers man checkpoints around town in case UNITA rebels try to infiltrate with the IDPs.

"This situation in Huambo is horrendous and it is as tense as anything," said the local representative of the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UCAH). "The ordinary residents here are now as vulnerable as the internally displaced people (IDPs) of whom we have counted 80,000 but whose numbers are believed closer to 120,000. And because we cannot get here by road, all emergency relief supplies have to be flown in at huge cost."

This week marks the first time in a decade that UN observers and peacekeepers are no longer operating in Angola. The Angolan government asked the UN not to renew the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Angola which ceased operations on 26 February. The UN humanitarian community and NGOs have been told they can remain.

But it means that the international community can no longer monitor the crisis in Huambo and elsewhere, let alone assist humanitarian workers as it has done in the past. With security deteriorating, it spells difficult times for the NGOs working with UN agencies to bring relief.

Just outside the city, in the derelict Sao Pedro factory belt, people are cleaning a series of warehouses in a food-for-work programme. Swiss Humanitarian Aid is helping divide large halls into family units and providing roofing material; Development Workshop of Canada is seeing to water and sanitation installations; CONCERN has hired carpenters and masons; Save the Children and UNICEF are providing non-food items. Other NGOs from Europe, the United States and Angola itself are working closely with the city's deputy governor. But even though he visits the site twice daily to see how work is progressing, the influx of IDPs grows daily.

"It is a model of cooperation, and the government has gone out of its way to help us, allowing the nearby land to be divided up for planting," said the UCAH representative. "Unlike some other places in Angola, the army has not requisitioned any aid agency vehicles. But we have to be constantly on the alert - a day or two ago Halo Trust removed two mines right where people were working in Sao Pedro."

During a visit by IRIN to Huambo aboard a small aircraft taking demining experts to the area, shooting broke out at the airport. It served as a reminder that it was here, the day after Christmas Day, when a UN Hercules C-130 transport plane with 14 MONUA personnel aboard was shot down. Another, with nine UN staff aboard, was brought down on 2 January.

The government and UNITA blamed each other for the shootings, and the UN has so far only been allowed to conduct a preliminary visit to each site. In its latest resolution on Angola last week, the UN Security Council expressed its "deep concern" at the lack of progress in the investigation "and the loss under suspicious circumstances of other commercial aircraft over UNITA controlled areas, and reiterates its call upon all concerned, especially UNITA, to cooperate fully with, and to facilitate, an immediate and objective international investigation of these incidents".

With the observers no longer operating, Strippoli said: "We are now following the situation in this country with the view that every Angolan deserves the right to aid." He warned that given the serious deterioration in security conditions necessitating delivery of food and other supplies by air to Huambo and elsewhere, the cost of transport and other logistics was bound to increase.

By the end of this month, he said, there would be a revised appeal for Angola. "We cannot wait too long for a donor response. We need it quickly and a timely response is very important if we are not to curtail our operations," Strippoli said. [ENDS]

Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign

Issue no. 6, Vol. V
26th February 1999

[excerpts; full text can be found at]

MONUA mandate expires

The UN Security Council is to vote on 26 February not to renew the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola, MONUA, when it expires on that date. This follows the bleak assessment of the prospects for peace by the UN Secretary General in his report to the UN Security Council on 17 January.

Since this time, the UN Security Council has been considering the options for the future of the United Nations operations in Angola. The Security Council had wanted to maintain a "multidisciplinary presence" in Angola, but the Angolan government is only prepared to accept a much narrower mandate for UN operations. The Angolan government has held MONUA at least partially responsible for the failure of the Lusaka Protocol, in particular for not holding UNITA to its obligation to disarm and demilitarise.

The United Nations is to keep its vital humanitarian operation in Angola, and will maintain a human rights component. The UNDP is to continue to give training and technical assistance to the Angolan government. However, the Angolan government has not allowed the UN to keep a military component, nor to have a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General based in the country. The most likely result will be that a Special Representative will be appointed, but based in New York.

A second resolution will have to be passed in the UN Security Council to set up the "follow-up configuration of the UN presence in Angola".

The United Nations wants to keep a door open so that if, as many western governments think likely, the fighting between the Angolan army and UNITA eventually becomes deadlocked, then the UN will be available to help with any future negotiated settlement.

However, in a letter to the UN Secretary General on 11 February, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said that, "objectively, the Angolan Government simply considers that the conditions no longer exist to maintain the presence of MONUA in Angola, in whatever form, since Mr Jonas Savimbi - who had already been jeopardising the Lusaka Protocol in the second half of 1998, through small-scale military actions and other acts preventing its normal implementation - finally broke with it in December last year by resuming large-scale warfare and extending it to almost all the national territory". ...

Sanctions to be tightened

The UN Security Council has endorsed a report by the UN Sanctions Committee, which has called for a tightening of sanctions imposed upon UNITA.

The Sanctions Committee met on 26 January, and subsequently prepared a report for the Security Council, outlining ways in which sanctions could be improved.

Importantly, the Committee supported the commissioning of an expert study on possible ways of tracing violations of the measures on arms trafficking, oil supply, diamond trade and the movement of UNITA funds.

The Sanctions Committee is awaiting a report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the INTELSAT agency before reporting on possible sanctions on UNITA's telecommunications.

Analysts have pointed out that the Angolan government has much to do to tighten the embargoes, including taking action against government officials who have been involved in sanctions busting.

One major problem facing the Sanctions Committee is that it relies on information provided by member states. It is unlikely that a member state will highlight its failures.

Charmian Gooch of Global Witness, who produced a recent report on UNITA's illegal diamond trade, broadly welcomed the report but called on the United Nations to "name and shame" those countries which continually fail to implement the embargo despite having the revenue and infrastructure to take action.

President reshuffles government

On 29 January President Jose Eduardo dos Santos removed the Prime Minister and the Ministers for defence, finance, home and foreign affairs, and named a new cabinet.

The popular general, Kundi Payhama, the former governor of Huila province, was made Minister of Defence replacing General Pedro Sebastiao.

Joao Bernardo de Miranda was promoted to Foreign Minister. He had been deputy to the outgoing Foreign Minister Venancio de Moura who is ill.

The government-recognised UNITA, led by Euginio Manuvakola, continues to hold four cabinet posts, and other junior parties in the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation keep their ministerial posts.

Mbanza Congo recapture highlights war propoganda

UNITA has failed to make sweeping gains in Angola, despite catching the government army, FAA, off guard with its ferocious attacks in December. FAA has recovered ground, though this may be at the price of leaving its allies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, vulnerable.

The recent fighting over the provincial capital of the northwestern province of Zaire, Mbanza Congo, has highlighted the difficulties in making the distinction between reality and propaganda.

UNITA took the town on 26 January after fierce fighting. Regional analysts warned that this UNITA victory was a threat to the oil town of Soyo on the coast. However, the Angolan government reported on 12 February that its army, FAA, had retaken the town after further fierce fighting. The state-owned television channel, TPA, showed the recaptured town, and FAA commander General Joao de Matos is reported to have visited it.

The recapture of the town is a major morale boost for FAA, who have had several reverses on the battlefield recently. It is rumoured that FAA withdrew one of its crack units from the Democratic Republic of Congo to retake the town. Despite the adamant assertion by the government that Mbanza Congo has been returned to state control, some diplomatic sources simply state that they do not know who controls the town.

Two of Jonas Savimbi's most senior aides, UNITA Secretary General Paulo Lukamba "Gato" and General Alcides Sakala have flatly rejected that they have lost Mbanza Congo. Alcides Sakala told Reuters that: "it is not true. It is again cheap propaganda with the aim of raising the morale of the army. They (government forces) are facing a lot of problems. They have not even tried to attack Mbanza Congo so far". ...

South African and British companies accused

Whilst Uganda and Zambia have been accused of being trans-shipment centres for weapons to UNITA, there are allegations that South Africans are behind the arms deals.

On 19 February the London-based publication, Southscan, claimed that Uganda and the DRC had been used as transit routes by South African arms dealers selling Russian-made T-62 tanks, D-30 medium-range field howitzers and South African made G-6 howitzers, to UNITA.

The T-62 is a more modern tank than the T-55, which went out of production in eastern Europe in 1981. Analysts doubt that UNITA have G-6 howitzers although it is thought that they have the older G-5 system.

The British Observer newspaper reported on 31 January that the British company, Air Atlantic Cargo, is suspected of having shipped arms to UNITA. A Boeing 707 aircraft was spotted at Pointe Noire in Congo-Brazzaville, from which UNITA troops unloaded "military looking" crates.

UNITA has clearly been buying large quantities of arms over several years to build up a formidable arsenal. Recent UNITA defectors and prisoners have said that UNITA began to re-arm in earnest in 1996. This was confirmed by Colonel Boaventura Chingundo, a senior UNITA officer captured during fighting in Cunhinga, Bie Province. He said that Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and South Africa had been transit points for arms to UNITA.

On top of this, the rebel movement did not disarm, despite this being an obligation under the Lusaka Protocol (see APM ad passim).

One vital resource UNITA will need regularly to replenish is oil products. Many of UNITA's most powerful and destructive weaponry is either mounted or towed on vehicles. If as some experts believe, this war is to become one of attrition, then stopping oil supplies to UNITA will become a priority for the Angolan government.

Food crisis looms

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) put out a special alert on 18 February warning that the food outlook in Angola was increasingly bleak.

Despite good rains, food production is expected to be inadequate due to intense fighting in the major crop growing areas of the country. Many farmers have abandoned their land to join the large number of recently internally displaced people, who number over 500,000.

The report states that there is an urgent need for the international community to do everything possible to ensure that adequate humanitarian assistance is provided.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UCAH) have reported that the situation in Cuito is improving, with some people returning to their homes, but that the situation in Malanje is worsening.

In Malanje UCAH report that 104,850 internally displaced people are crammed into the city following fighting in the countryside. The city is still being bombarded by UNITA which is making relief operations more difficult.

The cost of running the humanitarian aid programme is increasing and UN agencies are appealing for more money. The WFP urgently needs another 19,950 metric tons on top of its original appeal, and it needs an additional $9.5 million to cover the cost of its airlift operations. UNICEF has appealed for an extra $1 million for its immunisation programme, and an extra $1 million for the airlifting of non-food supplies. The World Health Organisation has warned of the increased risks of epidemics and malnutrition and has also appealed for extra funding to continue its early warning and information network. ...

The Angola Peace Monitor is produced every month by ACTSA - Action for Southern Africa, the successor organisation to the British Anti-Apartheid Movement. It is produced as our contribution towards the work of the Angola Emergency Campaign, which seeks to highlight the need for international action in support of peace and democracy in Angola.

ACTSA, 28 Penton Street, London N1 9SA
fax: +44 171 837 3001 telephone: +44 171 833 3133.
Back issues of the Angola Peace Monitor are available on the World Wide Web at:

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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