Angola: Access limitations place 314,000 in critical need

News and Press Release
Originally published
(New York: 4 March 2003) - The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Angola, where the UN runs one of the largest relief operations in the world, reports that the needs of some 314,000 people are now critical. The combination of seasonal rains, dilapidated infrastructure and mine infestation have cut off humanitarian access to 236,000 people who had been receiving aid and to another estimated 200,000 who have not. Conditions are expected to further deteriorate in coming weeks unless access can be established.
The needs of those 236,000 people who had been receiving assistance at the end of 2002 are now critical because humanitarian aid can no longer reach them. The needs of an estimated 78,000 people of the estimated 200,000 who have long been inaccessible to humanitarian workers are now estimated to be critical as well. The UN estimates that at least 25 locations where assistance was being delivered late last year are currently cut-off.

Efforts to reach vulnerable populations have been severely impeded by mine incidents along roads used by humanitarian partners and commercial vehicles. Since January, at least seven anti-tank and anti-personnel mine accidents have been reported along access routes in Benguela, Bié, Kuando Kubango, Kuanza Sul and Lunda Sul Provinces. Using armoured vehicles and airdrops, agencies have been able to resume operations in 12 locations in Huambo, Kuanza Sul, Malanje, Lunda Norte and Moxico Provinces, reaching 160,000 beneficiaries

Though Angola's 30-year long conflict ended in April 2002, the humanitarian crisis in Angola remains one of the worst worldwide. According to Government figures, 3.5 million people, one quarter of the country's entire population, have been displaced as a result of the war. Since the end of the war, dramatically improved access has increased the caseload for life-saving assistance from two to three million people. That improved access, and the people it benefited, are now jeopardized. In addition, some 289,000 ex-UNITA soldiers and family members, who are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, are concentrated in 30 gathering areas and satellites. More than 1.5 million internally displaced persons and 91,000 refugees have returned to their areas of origin, many to locations where basic services are not yet in place. Unless urgent steps are taken to stabilise at-risk populations and support return movements on the basis of the Norms for the Resettlement of Displaced Populations and the regulamento, the humanitarian crisis may deepen, jeopardising future recovery and reconstruction.

Funds for the United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency appeal for Angola, which seeks $386 million from donors, are needed urgently to ensure the continuation of key life-saving and resettlement programmes.

Bureau de la Coordination des Affaires Humanitaires
Regional Support Office for West Africa - Bureau Regional d'Appui pour l'Afrique de l'Ouest

For further information, please contact:

New York: Brian Grogan (212) 963-1143
Geneva : Elizabeth Byrs 41 22 917 2653
Luanda: Victor Builo 244 2 441 072

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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