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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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, V, 10

Angola: Peace Monitor, V, 10
Date Distributed (ymd): 990701
Document reposted by APIC

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

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+
Summary Contents: This issue of the Angolan Peace Monitor highlights the escalating humanitarian crisis in Angola, and also contains notes on proposals to strengthen the UN sanctions against UNITA.

Also posted today - statement from Angolan Group of Reflection for Peace (GARP)

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Angola Peace Monitor
Published by ACTSA on behalf of the Angola Emergency Campaign
Issue no. 10, Vol. V 30th June 1999

[Note: the version of this issue distributed via the Africa Policy Distribution List is slightly condensed from the full version (available at]

United Nations pleas for funds to halt starvation

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, warned on 7 June that unless funds are immediately made available, the entire humanitarian effort in Angola will stop and "hundreds of thousands of Angolans will face severe malnutrition, disease and death". The call for urgent funds comes as a survey found that child malnutrition is at its highest level in twenty five years.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million people out of Angola's 13 million population have fled their homes as fighting has spread through the country - 800,000 since December 1998. Almost all of these people rely on donated food for their survival.

At the same time the UN's World Food Programme, which delivers Angola's food aid, has been forced to run an expensive airlift as the rebel movement UNITA lays siege to several provincial capitals. To compound the problems, international donors have failed to live up to promises, leaving the people of Angola facing a humanitarian disaster.

The WFP has found itself rapidly running out of food stocks and funds. Sources state that there have already been major cuts in all provinces in the amount of food available for distribution. Reuters reported on 22 June that emergency stocks had dropped to just eight weeks worth as international attention has turned away to Kosovo.

The UN is seeking $100 to $115 million for the humanitarian relief programme. Of $105 million promised by the international community, only $45.15 million had been released. ...

Survey shows size of problem

The sheer scale of the unfolding tragedy has been highlighted by a nutritional survey in Huambo city. It shows a dramatic increase in the levels of malnutrition, and underscores the danger that if something is not done very soon to reverse the situation, starvation and deaths associated with hunger will rocket.

The survey, carried out by the Angolan Ministry of Health along with Save the Children Fund-UK and Concern found that 16.7 per cent of children under the age of five were suffering from malnutrition, of whom 3.5 per cent are in a severe state. SCF predicts that "this will probably lead to increasing child deaths and a rise in the incidence of disease. It is feared that the situation may be even worse in other cities where the supply of aid has been disrupted, such as Malanje."

There are currently 70,000 children under five in Huambo, giving an estimate of 12,000 malnourished youngsters. SCF plans to increase its feeding programme for children in Huambo from 2,000 to 3,500. The report warns that there was only sufficient food at present to feed 2,850 children daily.

Previous nutritional surveys in Huambo show how the situation can improve or deteriorate rapidly. In 1994, before the Lusaka Protocol was signed, 8.5 per cent of children were malnourished. By September that year, the level had dropped to 7.9 per cent. Seven months later, when peace was established, the level had dropped to 3.7 per cent.

The survey also found that malnutrition among the residents of Huambo was "on a par" with malnutrition amongst those fleeing to the city. This is significant for two reasons. Firstly, residents would normally be expected to have their own stores of food or access to funds to buy stocks in the market. Secondly, many of the humanitarian programmes have been targeted at the internally displaced people, excluding the local residents. There have been numerous reports of residents claiming to be displaced people in order to get food aid, and some aid agencies are now turning their minds to how they can alter their programmes to meet all in need.

Unfortunately the situation in Huambo is not unique. For example, in Cuito Medecins Sans Frontieres - Belgium also reports a dramatic increase in the number of severely malnourished children.

Whilst the UN has made assisting the hungry in Angola a high priority, the donor nations view aid to refugees and internally displaced people in Kosovo as the political imperative. Francesco Strippoli, the UN humanitarian coordinator and WFP representative in Angola, told the UN news agency IRIN that he was concerned that the Kosovo crisis, while every bit as dire, was diverting attention away from Angola.

Transport costs soar

A WFP/FAO mission to Angola in May 1999 has reported that the cost of internal transport, storage and handling increased from $219 a tonne last year to $330 a tonne.

The WFP budget for distributing food in 1999 was originally based on delivery by road. However, UNITA attacks on aid convoys have forced the WFP to fly the aid directly to the provincial capitals. The key provincial capitals, Huambo, Cuito, Luena and Malanje, are under siege by UNITA. Malanje has at times been accessible by road, although only at great risk. Poor harvest predicted

Despite better weather conditions than last year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation has predicted that this year's harvest will fall by around eleven per cent as farmers have fled their fields for the relative safety of government-held towns and as crops have been stolen.

The report estimated that Angola needed international emergency assistance of 180,000 tonnes of maize for the agricultural year 1999/2000. Of this, under a third - 56,000 tonnes - had been pledged. The report estimates that Angola will need to import 505,000 tonnes of cereals over the next year, compared with 420,000 last year.

The report was based on a field visit in May 1999.

Angola faces worst polio outbreak in Africa

The WHO has reported that Angola is experiencing the worst outbreak of polio that Africa has seen in the last four years. Polio is a highly infections virus mainly affecting young children, causing paralysis or death.

There have been almost a thousand reported cases of the disease with 84 deaths. Luanda has borne the brunt of the disease, although cases have been reported in Bengo, Malanje and Benguela.

An emergency vaccination campaign has been launched, aiming to cover two million children before the end of August. So far 400,000 children have been vaccinated in Luanda. The internationally renowned photographer, Lord Snowdon, visited Angola in May as a WHO Special Envoy, and has photographed the polio tragedy.

The multinational corporation De Beers is funding a quarter of the cost of the National Immunisation Days in Angola in 1999 and 2000. This is the first time that the WHO has joined forces with a private sector company at the global level for polio eradication.

However, even the campaign to save children from polio has not escaped the effects of war. On 12 June two Angolan aid workers with the Portuguese NGO Instituto Portugues de Medicina Preventiva were murdered and another two seriously wounded when UNITA troops attacked their vehicle on the road from Catete to Maria Teresa in Bengo province. The polio vaccines, along with personal belongings - including the shoes on their feet - were stolen during the attack, and their vehicle was destroyed.

The UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sergio Vieira de Mello condemned the attack as a "barbaric act" happening "at a time when the humanitarian community is seeking unhindered access to assist populations in need throughout the Angolan territory". ...

Cities remain under fire

The humanitarian situation in the city of Huambo remains dire, with UNITA continuing sporadically to shell the city.

On 20 June the WFP was forced to suspend flights to the city after a new round of shelling. The WFP announced on 24 June that it only had 15 days worth of stocks in Huambo. Recipients receive food to cover thirty days.

However, on 28 June the Minister of Defence, Kundi Payhama, stated that UNITA had been pushed back following a large attack on the city and it was hoped that aid flights could resume. Heavy fighting took place at Caala and Tchidinji, and it seems as if the government army managed to hold their positions and repulse UNITA.

Malanje has continued to suffer from shelling. According to the South African Press Association, a heavy bombardment on 22-24 June left at least 40 people dead and 60 injured.

Aid organisation closes down Angolan operation

The US-based International Medical Corps has announced that largely due to a lack of funding it is closing its operations in Huambo, Lunda Norte, Moxico and Uige.

Plan to tighten sanctions on UNITA unveiled

The Chairman of the UN Sanctions Committee set up to implement sanctions against UNITA has presented recommendations to the UN Security Council on how to tighten existing sanctions which have been flouted by UNITA.

There are to be two expert panels looking into UNITA's sanctions busting. The first of these will look at how UNITA funds its war machine - in particular diamond smuggling, and how it gets petroleum products. The banking structures of UNITA are also to be investigated. The other expert panel will look at military support for UNITA, including where the rebels get their weapons from, and whether they use mercenaries.

Following his visit to seven Southern African countries in May (see APM no.9 vol. V), Ambassador Fowler of Canada placed fourteen recommendations before the Security Council. The report was broken down into four sections:

Enforcement and monitoring

Ambassador Fowler suggests that the Secretary General should provide recommendations to the Security Council within three months on the feasibility of deploying a small number of UN civilian sanctions monitors possessing expertise relating to customs inspection. He gave as examples of possible points to be monitored the following: Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso; Abidjan, in Cote d'Ivoire; Tshikapa, Dilolo, Kolweizi and Lumbumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Nampula, in Mozambique; Rundu, in Namibia; Kigali, in Rwanda; Durban and airfields in the northern portion of South Africa; Dar es Salaam, in the United Republic of Tanzania; Lome, in Togo; Kyiv, in Ukraine; Entebbe and Kampala, in Uganda; Mansa, Mongu, Ndola, Livingstone and Zambezi, in Zambia; as well as in Luanda and other Angolan ports.

He encouraged countries, particularly those with a significant capacity for intelligence-gathering, to make information on sanctions violations available to the Sanctions Committee and the SADC ad hoc committee on Angola sanctions.

He also called on the UN to provide support for air surveillance and even for the interdiction of UNITA supply flights. He stressed that there should be collaboration between the Sanctions Committee and the SADC entities concerned with Angola sanctions, as well as with Intepol.


Ambassador Fowler said that "diamond revenues constitute the essential component of UNITA's capacity to wage war". He pointed out that UNITA is alleged to have earned $200 million in 1999 alone, and as much as $4 billion since 1992. To put this amount in perspective, Angola's foreign debt stands at around $12 billion.

The Chairman recommended that licensed foreign diamond buyers and major diamond mining companies in Angola, and industry councils in the major diamond-cutting centres, should work with the Committee and its expert panels in devising practical measures to limit UNITA's access to legitimate diamond markets. This is intended to lead to standardised and credible certificates of origin.

Robert Fowler suggested that his expert panels should provide recommendations on the feasibility of the UN appointing a small number of expert monitors at the major diamond exchanges, with the task of identifying and confiscating UNITA diamonds.

Application of sanctions

The report urges all member states to implement legislation to make it a criminal offence to violate sanctions against UNITA. It also suggests that a meeting should be convened by the UN on the application of sanctions, to outline the obligations of member states and to provide advice on how that obligation can best be met. The importance of applying sanctions should be highlighted at summit and major ministerial meetings. Industry associations should be encouraged to sensitise their corporate members on the measures.

Expert panels

The report states that the expert panels should be able to commission background studies, and to identify "best practices" with regard to the application of sanctions. The Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the question of the use of mercenaries should be invited to contribute to the work of the expert panels.

Ambassador Fowler's report has been strongly welcomed by both the United States and South Africa. However, analysts have raised serious concerns about the practicalities of implementing the recommendations. In particular, it has been questioned whether his report will hamper the work of the expert panels, who have not yet met. Questions have also been raised about the cost of the operation, although the total cost would be insignificant in comparison with the cost of the failed UN mission in Angola.

Even if the recommendations were met in full, there is a large question mark over whether the sanctions will be effective. The mixture of corrupt government officials and the vested interests of the arms and diamond trade will try to obstruct implementation.

The multinational corporation De Beers has met with Ambassador Fowler and formally stated that it does comply with the letter and spirit of diamond sanctions. However, the NGO Global Witness has called on De Beers to publicly clarify how it has changed its buying operations to ensure that it no longer buys embargoed diamonds.

The great significance of the report should not be lost in the argument of practicalities. The report is calling for the United Nations to take proactive action to create international mechanisms for ensuring that member states abide by ethical and legal obligations in one aspect of the arms and diamond trade. If successful these mechanisms could provide a model for international action on conflicts, and this in itself could prove to be an obstacle to their realisation.


Army reorganising to reverse military situation

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has announced that the armed forces are reorganising themselves and getting ready for a counter-offensive.

The official comment on 7 June in Harare comes as new recruits conscripted into the Angolan army are undergoing basic training. It is understood from well-placed sources that the much heralded government offensive will not take place until at least August 1999 as the government is awaiting key military hardware.

UN approves small mission to Angola

The Angolan government has agreed in principle to allow the UN to increase its presence in Luanda, following a meeting in the capital between the Foreign Minister, Joao Miranda and the UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping, Bernard Miyet. Also at the meeting was Issa Diallo, who has been largely sidelined since the Angolan government demanded that he be based in New York.

The proposed mission would include political, information and humanitarian components, but there has been no agreement on military observers.


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, e-mail,
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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