Angola: Aid efforts hindered by landmines, poor roads

News and Press Release
Originally published
(New York: 21 November 2003) - Landmines, poor roads, and heavy rains continue to hamper efforts to bring aid to Angolans suffering the cumulative effects of decades of war. OCHA's office in Angola reported at least nine instances in which people were killed or injured by mines or unexploded ordnance between 15 October and 15 November. The slowness of municipal authorities to construct small simple bridges throughout the dry season will now create major problems in the wet season. Additionally, humanitarian operations, including demining activities are expected to slow down because of the heavy rains forecast for the next few months.
Humanitarian access is cut off to many areas by the poor conditions of roads and bridges. For example, access to communities that are considered to be vulnerable in the Kamacupa and N'harea Municipalities, remains impossible due to broken bridges and the possibility of mines. A broken bridge over the river Kuquema continues to prevent access to the community of Caeio, Kinhinga Municipality, where 5,000 families await assistance.

In the areas where there is access, humanitarian agencies are achieving results. For example, in Kuanza Sul province, a new bridge went up over the river Quicombo, enabling the NGO German Agro Action to distribute 1,040 agricultural kits to an area that until now had not received any humanitarian aid. Also, a bridge over the river Keve has increased the movement of people and goods into Gabela. If the NGO Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) continues to clear mines from the area around the destroyed bridge over the river Cuso in Kuanza Norte, then Swedish Rescue Services Agency will be able to rebuild this important bridge as part of the UN world Food Programme (WFP) bridge building programme.

Due in part to access limitations, some 70 per cent of returnees resettled without any aid from local authorities or humanitarian organizations. Nonetheless, the humanitarian situation improved during 2003. At the height of the emergency in 2002, more than two million Angolans were on the brink of death and at least three million were receiving direct humanitarian assistance. Now, conditions have stabilized in areas where humanitarian agencies have uninterrupted access.

United Nations agencies and NGOs, in close consultation with the Government, will provide emergency assistance during 2004 to more than one million vulnerable people, supporting their efforts to achieve self-sufficiency. For example, UNHCR, along with its partners the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, will directly assist refugees by providing transport, food and shelter materials. UNHCR hands out food and other supplies at its reception centres within the country to those who return spontaneously.

At the same time, humanitarian partners will work to increase the delivery of social services aimed at providing dignified living conditions for more than 2.5 million people and strengthening their communities.

The UN country team and it NGO partners are seeking a total of US$262,587,702 to fund their activities in Angola in 2004 through the Consolidated Appeals process.

For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA NY, 917 367 5126, mobile 917 892 1679; Elizabeth Byrs, OCHA Geneva, 41 22 917 2653, mobile 41(0) 79 472 4570.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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