Angola Emergency: Update December 1999

Situation Report
Originally published
In Angola, after a long period of escalating tension, the political situation between government and rebel forces gave way to war when, in December of 1998, government troops attacked the rebel UNITA strongholds of Bailundo and Andulo. Sadly, this return to full scale armed conflict occurred shortly after the November 1998 anniversary of the Lusaka Peace Accord.
Catholic Relief Services Recent Emergency Activities

As part of CRS/Angola's growing emergency response activities, the agency, in coordination with the local Caritas, initiated a feeding program in Cubal, targeting vulnerable residents and new internally displaced people. It has 14 kitchens and feeds 4,200 people a day. Additionally, in the month of August, nearly 2,500 blankets were distributed to all elderly registrants.

Due to increased demand, CRS/Angola will continue to support ongoing basic health care services at two hospitals in Cubal and Balombo. These two hospitals, the only referral hospitals within 62 miles of both locations, provide health care to an estimated 40,000 and 200,000 war-affected individuals respectively.

The emphasis CRS/Angola places on capacity building and training in Angola has become a hallmark of CRS' implementation strategies throughout the world. Catholic Relief Services will work with 10 local organizations in the second year of the agency's Emergency Preparedness and Response Training Program. Seven organizations which participated in the first year of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Training (EPRT) have received a $5,000 grant. As a result of the EPRT program, the Angolan government, local organizations, and communities throughout the country will be more capable of preparing for and responding to ongoing and sporadic civil disruptions in Angola.

From August through October, the Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Cubal Health Team helped develop Community Development Committees (CDC's) in rural communities. The purpose of the CDC's, now numbering 40, is to identify community concerns and improve health conditions for our target population. Health staff are receiving training on malaria case management, health concerns of women of reproductive age and children under five. Additionally the projects support the Ministry of Health staff.

Reaching 7,500 members of farming families, CRS/Angola distributed seeds, tools, 1323 pounds of corn seed, and sustainable farming technology in coastal and interior areas of the Benguela Province. Special humanitarian flights carried these critical agriculture supplies to vulnerable farmers. To complement these efforts, Food for Work activities have helped repair 33 miles of canals. Water-management has been improved and land previously uncultivated during the rainy season will be cultivated this year.

Background on the Situation

Throughout the past year, the violence and fighting has increased steadily. Currently there is almost no road access for humanitarian assistance. This mode of travel puts both drivers and goods at risk for attack. Additionally, road attacks targeting civilian vehicles are occurring frequently. For safety reasons, humanitarian aid is being delivered primarily by plane, an expensive and limited alternative. Increased insecurity throughout the country, especially in the early part of 1999, led to major population movements towards provincial towns. Internally displaced persons numbering more than 13,140 in Balombo and nearly 29,000 in Cubal are currently in Catholic Relief Services target area.

The land mine situation continues to be grave, threatening the lives and wellbeing of thousands of Angolan citizens. On top of the millions of undetonated ordinances remaining from previous fighting, reports indicate that both government and the UNITA rebel troops are laying new mines. In July 1999, a new peace movement was launched calling for negotiations and an end to the fighting in Angola. By the end of the month the movement had reportedly gained the signatures of more than 13,000 prominent people. During a meeting of the Angolan Catholic Bishops, a pastoral message entitled, "Let us Save the Lives of Angolans," was presented. The message vehemently condemns the war in Angola.

Copyright=A91999 CRS