UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN ANGOLA
Reporting period: 18 to 24 June 1999
More civilians victimised in Huambo and Malange following UNITA shelling during the reporting period
The civilian population of Huambo City has been the target of shelling since 18 June. The city remained under attack until this report was finalised. Local humanitarian observers are still gathering reliable data on casualties and wounded people. On 20 June, in the afternoon, Malange was once more shaken with bombs coming from outside town.
In its last update on Angola, the International Confederation of the Red Cross (ICRC) called the attention for a "new regional phenomenono/oo spotted in Angola, of villages surrounding Huambo City such as N'Gove, Sambo and Cuima to have been totally deserted. These massive displacements, according to the same report, are consequences of "the particularly violent clashes, with numerous attacks and counter attackso/oo which "have left the civilian population of Huambo (Province) feeling extremely insecureo/oo.
On 21 June, reacting to the deterioration of the situation in Angola, the US State Department urged "all concerned to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people in need throughout the territoryo/oo, and "guarantee unconditionally the security and freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel seeking to assist all Angolan displaced by the fightingo/oo. In this regard, the US State Department called upon UNITA " not to threaten civilian aircraft engaged in efforts to distribute humanitarian relief supplies to provincial capitalso/oo.
The statement also expressed the US Government's grave concern over reports that UNITA forces have been engaged in shelling the city of Huambo. While condemning "such indiscriminate attacks on civilian populationso/oo, the US State Department urged both sides "to respect the rights of civilians and to desist from using non-combatants in the pursuit of military objectiveso/oo.
The May 1999 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Angola released its report during the current period. The main goals of this mission were to assess the impact of the displacement of farm families on food crop production for the 1998/1999 agricultural year; estimate the national cereal import requirement for the 1999/2000 marketing year; and review the food aid need of the affected people. The mission observed that for an estimated Angolan population at 13.4 million, the cereal import requirement for 1999/2000 marketing year is estimated at 505 000 tonnes, which compares with actual cereals imports of 420 000 tonnes during the previous marketing year.
In regards to the estimated cereal import requirements for the next commercial year (already running since April 1999 until March 2000), and according to the same Mission, at least 180 000 tonnes of cereals are still uncovered.
The FAO/WFP Mission also concluded that due to the prevailing general insecurity in the country, the current total number of people needing humanitarian food assistance represents an increase of approximately 50 percent over 1998 estimates. The cost of internal transport, storage and handling rose from US$219/tonne last year to US$330/tonne this year, but the security situation is so precarious these days that humanitarian road convoys have almost been halted. Currently, about 3,000 tonnes are transported by air each month from hubs in Luanda and Catumbela. Factors such as the lack of aeronautical information, inadequate aircraft ground support services, poor maintenance and repair of airports and airstrips, limited availability reliable air operators willing to operate in precarious areas, lack of sufficient fuel, and above all very high insurance rates are contributing to increased transports costs.
Humanitarian Situation and Assistance
In Malange, a UN joint evaluation mission carried out last week reviewed humanitarian strategies and emergency relief operations. The government authorities gave them assurances that full co-operation will be given to relief initiatives coming from the international community. However, resuming of shelling has forced the humanitarian partners to halt all scheduled activity because of indiscriminate shelling that may endanger groups of people gathering to receive assistance. Locally based NGOs and humanitarian institutions are providing aid only when possible, as it is the case of Caritas implementation of community kitchens for vulnerable groups through humanitarian food aid. The absence of sufficient qualified personnel over the last six months is deeply affecting both emergency and rehabilitation activities in different sectors.
In Huambo Province, where shelling of the airport impedes humanitarian flights to land, the WFP warehouse in the provincial capital has only food for another one or two weeks. Besides, the current situation is also not allowing any relief items to arrive by road. In the periphery of Huambo City, another two incidents involving newly laid anti-tank mines occurred this week at two different roads frequently used by humanitarian organisations. Although such incidents jeopardise and further hinder the relief operations planned for the affected areas, the initiatives among some groups of IDPs, such as the ones installed in Calenga municipality, are worth to be praised. This IDP community is presently showing a remarkable improvement of their living conditions, due to self-sufficiency and water and sanitation solutions they have found with the assisting NGOs.
In Bengo Province, earlier this month, the IDPs at Cambambe II centre located in Açucareira, Caxito had their registration updated. The registration process began with the ANP closing off the centre limits just before 6:00 am in order to have an accurate count of who actually slept at the centre. Teachers-in-training from ADPP School in Caxito proceeded with the new registration, under the guidance of the Provincial Government and UTCAH/MINARS. WFP, AAA/AAD and InterSos/Cosv representatives performed as observers. The updating resulted in a decrease in the number of IDPs from the previous 26,000 to 23,049 currently. People coming later from outside the camp as lunchtime was approaching had their names deleted from the list of beneficiaries. Such an exercise proved to be very positive and should be followed in other IDP centres all over the country, in order to benefit only the population actually in need.
The humanitarian team tasked with the re-counting and registration of IDPs recently arrived in Kuito Kuanavale (Kuando Kubango Province) had already finished the job. All 3,954 families (10,537 people) coming from Baixo Longa, Lupire, Ngombe, Porto Liabel, Tchikiti, Katchiupe and Litue (all belonging to Kuando Kubango Province), and from Alto Kuito, Kangamba and Kangombe (Moxico province) will benefit from concerted humanitarian activities involving UN Agencies, ECHO/EU and NGOs.
In Benguela Province, humanitarian food items propitiated by the German Government and WFP finally proceeded to Bocoio and Balombo, after security allowance was given. Upon arrival, this humanitarian cargo will allow the NGO German Agro-Action to assist more than 20,000 vulnerable people in these two municipalities. UCAH, through its Emergency Response Fund, fully contributed with the transportation costs, as these were not covered by the donations.
In the same province, results of nutritional surveys carried out by the Angolan Red Cross were released this week regarding Chongorói and Caimbambo. In Chongorói, moderate and severe malnutrition was found to be 10% and 3% respectively, while in Caimbambo moderate and severe malnutrition was found to stand at 17% and 2%. Through a local NGO, Okutiuka, and depending on the availability of WFP food aid in the field, community kitchens should soon be open to assist the most vulnerable, i.e. children, breast feeding mothers and elderly.
In Uíge, another 313 IDP families (2359 people) from Puri and Negage were counted and verified, while Quitexe's administration reported the arrival of 255 families from the vicinities of Ambuíla. The WFP delegation in this province received another cargo flight during the reporting period, although commodities received are rather pointed to early-defined vulnerable groups or to medical assistance centres (i.e. therapeutic, Tuberculosis, sleeping sickness). Further to IMC's withdrawal from Angola last week, World Vision International announced the closure of its mine awareness activities in Uíge province due to lack of funds. However, WVI will continue its agricultural and health activities in Kuanza Norte Province, as well as food distribution in the same province and in Malange.
In Zaire Province, according to Norwegian Refugee Council, a total of 5,412 families (25,682 people) has now returned to Mbanza Congo, although 267 families (1,250 people) are being assisted as IDPs as they cannot return to their areas of origin (Caluca, Madimba, Cuimba) due to prevailing insecurity.
On 22 June, in Moxico Province, where security is still permitting substantial operations of international humanitarian organisations, a fire at the Camussanguissa IDP camp just outside Luena (where 10,805 IDP receive humanitarian assistance) left 191 families without shelter and fully deprived of their personal assets. To overcome this regrettable incident, humanitarian partners are already distributing 1/2 family ration and non-food items (including blankets and plastic sheeting) to the unfortunate families.
During the reporting period, another influx of IDPs arrived in Kuito (Bié Province) declaring to be fleeing UNITA attacks in the vicinities of Kukema, located at 20-25 km southwest of Kuito. The humanitarian partners in the field are already studying the most immediate relief actions to assist them. On the other hand, already existing projects continue to be implemented, as the one leading to the construction of 13 IDP temporary centres. Food distribution is covering more than 25,000 vulnerable people (among them elderly people coming from Andulo and N'harea areas) while another 16,000 people are assisted through feeding and therapeutic centres or community kitchens.
Generally speaking, humanitarian assistance is increasingly becoming more and more difficult due to the continuing insecurity, which is simultaneously forcing more people to flee from areas of active military operations.
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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