Angola: Funds urgently needed for life-saving programmes

JOHANNESBURG, 5 March (IRIN) - The humanitarian operation in Angola, one of the largest in the world, urgently needs at least US $386 million from donors to ensure the continuation of key life-saving and resettlement programmes, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned.
OCHA said that seasonal rains, dilapidated infrastructure and mine infestation have cut off humanitarian access to at least 25 locations where assistance was being delivered last year, and that the needs of over 300,000 people were critical.

Julie Thompson, spokeswoman for OCHA Angola told IRIN on Wednesday: "The people in those areas are food insecure, they lack basic infrastructure, and face the threat of landmines. They have no access to health care and routine vaccinations. People in some areas are completely on their own and humanitarian workers cannot get there."

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.

According to government figures, 3.5 million people, one quarter of the country's entire population, have been displaced as a result of the protracted civil war.

After the implementation of last year's peace accord, access was improved to communities in need, said OCHA, but this was now jeopardised.

About 289,000 former UNITA soldiers and family members, who are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, are concentrated in 30 gathering areas. More than 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 91,000 refugees have returned to their areas of origin, many to locations where basic services are not yet in place.

OCHA said that unless urgent steps were taken to stabilise at-risk populations and support return movements, the humanitarian crisis may deepen, threatening recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Thompson said the much-needed donor money would be spent by UN agencies on food, essential drugs, seeds and tools and emergency survival items. School materials would also be purchased.

Last week the international think tank the International Crisis Group said the reintegration of former UNITA soldiers, the resettlement of displaced people and the removal of landmines were key to continued peace in Angola and urged the government to respond to the crisis.


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