ANGOLA: WFP news release warns of "grim months ahead" 1999.2.16

ANGOLA: WFP news release warns of "grim months ahead" 1999.2.16



? The World Food Programme today expressed alarm over the deteriorating condition of more than half a million Angolans who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the armed conflict.

WFP said reports of rising malnutrition rates and disease amongst the country?s 550,000 internally displaced people are becoming a cause for extreme concern. The agency feared the situation could start to spiral out of control in the months ahead should fighting not abate.

?The next few months are looking very grim,? said Francesco Strippoli, WFP?s Representative in Angola and the Head of the UN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UCAH). ?In fact, if the fighting continues and intensifies we could be looking at a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe.?

Several provinces are now reporting severe cases of malnutrition among children and women. The malnourished are falling prey to disease, with incidences of malaria and TB on the rise. The appalling sanitary conditions in which tens of thousands of displaced families are living is also aggravating health and nutritional problems.

While relief agencies have had renewed access to many towns in recent weeks, relentless shelling of Malange continues to block WFP from resuming air deliveries which stopped last December. Distribution of existing food stocks has been extremely difficult due to a serious shortage of NGO partners in the town. However, over the last 10 days, WFP food was distributed to almost 52,000 people with the help of Government counterparts and international NGOs such as OIKOS and World Vision. More needs to be done to address the worrying nutritional state of the some 70,000 internally displaced people in and around the city.

Strippoli said that a critical lack of food distribution partners in other towns was also straining the agency?s ability to feed the hungry, and that unless the situation reversed, large groups of internally displaced people and other vulnerable groups could not be assisted. In Huambo, security problems and a lack of distribution capacity meant that only a fraction of the target population received food in January. Escalating war throughout Angola has meant that many of WFP?s traditional partners are operating with skeleton crews or have left the area entirely.

?We are in a fierce uphill battle, trying to deliver large amounts of food aid to an escalating number of hungry people. The dangerous security environment is complicating our effort, with the people we?re trying to help often caught behind the front-lines of the war,? said Strippoli.

The situation is better in Kuito where security has improved after weeks of shelling and fierce skirmishes. In January, WFP fed some 48,000 people in Kuito, and plans are to feed 76,000 this month, assisted by the NGO CARE.

This month WFP hopes to deliver a total of 9,500 tons of food throughout Angola, most of it aboard two cargo aircraft which fly to eight central destinations on a daily basis. Extreme insecurity on Angolan roads has forced WFP to airlift over 90 per cent of its food as opposed to 20 per cent six months ago.

In Angola, WFP is responsible for transporting food to central locations where it is then turned over to national and international NGOs and local authorities for distribution to the vulnerable groups.

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For more information contact:

Maria Flynn, WFP Angola, Tel: +244-2-393543 Brenda Barton, Regional Information Officer, WFP Nairobi, Tel: +254-2-622854 Christiane Bertiaume, Information Officer, WFP Geneva, Tel: +41-22-979-9564 Abby Spring, Information Officer, WFP New York Tel. +1-212 963-5196


Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 11:08:03 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: ANGOLA: WFP news release warns of "grim months ahead" 1999.2.16

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,