UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
UNITED NATIONS HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE COORDINATION UNIT (UCAH)
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN ANGOLA
Reporting period: 11 to 17 June 1999
12 June, Bengo province- Humanitarian workers ambushed, two killed
On 12 June, just one hour after another journey of the National Immunisation Campaign against Polio was launched, two humanitarian staff working for the Portuguese NGO IPMP (Instituto Português de Medicina Preventiva) were killed, another two wounded, in an ambush on the road Catete-Maria Teresa (Bengo province). The vehicle they were using, clearly marked with the PAV logo and posters (Expanded Immunisation Programme) has been ambushed and the occupants, a team of 3 nurses and a driver, gunned. The attackers have stolen personal belongings and clothes of the IPMP staff and their medical items and left after burning the car and shooting again to the ones still moving.
The Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Sérgio Vieira de Mello, promptly reacted to this "barbaric act", happening "at a time when the humanitarian community is seeking unhindered access to assist populations in need throughout the Angolan territory". On his statement, he also urged the Government of Angola and the armed UNITA elements to take immediate and concrete measures to bring those responsible to justice, to avoid the repetition of such unacceptable acts and to improve the security and protection of humanitarian workers.
During the reporting period, another two incidents still under investigation and involving guns targeted WFP warehouses in Kuito, Bié province (no injuries) and in Malange (the guard was shot dead).
The situation remained the same all over the country, although increasing insecurity and shortages of food aid are further impeding the needy Angolan population to be properly assisted.
The lack of funding became another major hindrance for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The entire humanitarian community in Angola deeply regrets the announcement, this week, of IMC's closure, due to the lack of funding. This American NGO, International Medical Corps, has been dynamically working in Angola since 1990, providing humanitarian health assistance in Luena (Moxico), Uíge, Huambo and Lunda Norte. In the latter, IMC was the only NGO providing health assistance, and its withdrawal will certainly have a negative impact in the sanitary conditions of Lunda Norte's population in general.
Humanitarian Situation and Assistance
Malnutrition Rates among the Angolan Population:
A recently held nutritional emergency meeting co-chaired by UNICEF and MINSA, with the support of WFP and the participation of UCAH and 27 NGOs, disclosed the average status of malnutrition in each province within the population in government controlled areas. In some provinces of the northern part of Angola, as Zaire, Uíge, Bengo, Kuanza Norte, Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul, there are no evident signs of global or severe malnutrition, due to good crops and fair accessibility to it, and/or a better capability of assistance from the humanitarian community. However, malnutrition rates are quite preoccupying in the Central Highlands.
This major nutritional co-ordination initiative is seen as a crucial to implement healing activities in the next three to six months. The participants of the meeting stressed the immediate need of early warning and information sharing among implementing organisations. It has also been highly recommended that UNICEF/MINSA standards be used in every province in order to collect comparable data and to allow uniform actions.
The level of global and severe malnutrition in Huambo has already far exceeded the capacity of on-going feeding programmes. This situation can soon became highly damaging taking into consideration the security problems raising while transporting food (by air or road) and the scarcity of funds to address most needed humanitarian emergency activities.
In this province, cases of global malnutrition show an incidence of 80% among resident children (a higher average than among IDP population), but only 2.850 children are covered by supplementary or therapeutic feeding projects. A Nutrition Survey jointly carried out in Huambo municipality by MINSA (Ministry of Health), and the NGOs CONCERN and Save the Children-UK, shows that the average rate of global malnutrition among the 70,000 surveyed children (both IDPs and residents) is of 16.7%, while severe malnutrition raised to 3,5%. Just as an example, a similar survey carried out in April 1999 in the same province showed an average of just 3,7% of global malnutrition and 0.1% of severe malnutrition.
In Malange, due to its permanent siege status, it is expected that malnutrition rates will worsen very rapidly. The NGO MSF-Holland is ready to launch a nutritional assessment as soon as conditions permit, taking into consideration that global rates were standing at 18.2% last November before war was resumed. After a visit to the province during the reporting period, Minister of Territorial Administration, Faustino Muteka, declared to the press that the Government would soon be dispatching humanitarian food to the provincial capital in order to diminish the current hunger.
In Bié Province, the attendance at the feeding and therapeutic centres raised from 100 to 590 children only in May. The incidence of malnutrition among IDPs stands at 70%, and among residents at 30%. The situation is getting worse also in Benguela Province.
In Moxico Province, a survey made in just a patch of the population shows that global malnutrition rate stands at 6.6%, and as in Huambo, some groups of Internally Displaced people are in better shaped, under a nutritional point of view, than some residents.
In Uíge Province, there are no evident signs of malnutrition, as food is available in the fields ready for collection. The same can be said as regards to Zaire Province, where only three cases of malnutrition are being treated at Mbanza Congo's hospital.
In Kuanza Norte, the nutritional status increased slightly as crops are assuring food intakes to the population together with humanitarian food distributions. However, this can be jeopardised by the continuation of attacks on the roads linking Kuanza Norte to other provinces. The same situation is reported in Kuanza Sul, as areas of food production are unsafe and vehicles crossing roads of the province are constantly under attack.
For this specific aim, Luanda Province counts with seven PICs-Infant Community Programmes (of which only two are fully operational), and several therapeutic health posts. Probably due to the inactivity of the other five centres, the PICS in Rangel and Cacuaco municipalities acknowledged an increase of attendance of 50% and 25%, respectively, over the last month.
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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