Currently with 155 national employees and 11 expatriates, the ICRC covers the country as follows: the Luanda Delegation (HQ) covers the provinces of Bengo, Cabinda, Malanje, Kuanza-Norte and Sul, Uíge and Zaire. The Huambo sub-delegation covers the Bié province; while the Lubango sub-delegation covers the provinces of Huíla, Benguela, Namibe, Cunene and Cuando Cubango; the Luena office stretches its operations in the provinces of Lunda-Norte and Sul, with the exception of Moxico.
Restoring Family Links
For the past five years, the ICRC's main activity in Angola has been the reestablishment of family links, due to civilians being forced by the war to live far from their loved ones.
The Angolan Red Cross (CVA), in addition to being an ICRC partner, is an ally on this project, its volunteers playing an important role in minimizing days of uncertainty for many civilians.
Among the public in need, the most vulnerable category identified by the institution is the unaccompanied minors, who need not only to be reunited with their parents, but also protected against possible abuse.
The total number of children registered since 2002 is 2,100. During 2006:
- a total of 113 unaccompanied children were registered
- the reunification of 76 unaccompanied children was carried out
- the reunification of 42 vulnerable people (elderly, widows and children) took place
- tracing requests for missing persons totalled just under 3,300.
The exchange of the Red Cross messages (RCM) is an ICRC tool which, in partnership with the CVA, was broadly used in 2006 to restore and maintain family links. In 2006 nearly 434,000 RCM were exchanged, of which:
- just over 28,000 RCM were exchanged (sent and received)
- just under 406,000 RCM were exchanged from 2002 to 2006 (sent and received).
To make the child protection programme and the restoring of family links more dynamic, in July 2006 the magazine Gazetinha was made available to the public in addition to the Gazeta (also used to help reunite families). It contains pictures and names of unaccompanied minors. The Gazetinha is a new, easy to read, 53-page magazine with almost 110 pictures and 827 names of children registered by the Red Cross, who are looking for their parents or who are reported missing.
In March 2005, 3,000 copies of the fourth edition of the Gazeta were published, plus 10,000 copies of the Gazetinha and 20,000 posters are in circulation in Angola (in administrations, churches, and hospitals), Portugal, Zambia, DRC, Namibia, and in other countries with large Angolan communities.
The names contained in the Gazeta and in the Gazetinha are also published on the ICRC website (www.familylinks.icrc.org). Since March 2003 (first Gazeta edition), 1,585 children and adults were located, of which 506 restored contacts with their families after consulting the Gazeta. Since the end of December 2006, 23,158 persons, adults and children are being traced by their relatives, while 218 minors and 26 vulnerable people continue to look for their relatives.
Amputation, due to explosive remnants of war (UXO), is another hard reality for many Angolans today. To deal with this, the ICRC has supported since 1979 three orthopaedic centres belonging to the Ministry of Health in the provinces of Huambo, Bié and Luanda. More than 31,000 prostheses have been made in these centres. The ICRC contributes to about 50% of the prosthetic and orthotic services currently provided in Angola. These services, including physiotherapy and accommodation, are provided free of charge to the disabled and particularly the mine victims.
- nearly 1,100 amputees (78% of them mine victims) were fitted with prostheses
- a total of 160 patients were fitted with orthotic equipment in 2006
- just over 3,850 pairs of crutches were distributed
- 41 wheelchairs were distributed.
Mine risk reduction
In 2006, the ICRC supported the CVA in implementing mine risk reduction activities in six provinces, plus a mine risk education campaign through the media in all affected provinces. This CVA risk reduction program consisted in organizing community meetings aimed at helping the villagers to map out dangerous areas, pinpoint alternative safe areas, and mark dangerous paths. CVA volunteers also collected from villagers information about visible explosives and transmitted it to demining institutions, thus allowing people to access areas where they could undertake their daily and seasonal activities.
Extra attention was paid to groups particularly vulnerable such as farmers and hunters, and community meetings were held in order to share practical measures to reduce the risk of accidents involving mines or UXOs. Children were identified as a group at risk, and the ICRC supported technically and financially the CVA to help local administrations to create safe play areas for children. Sixteen such areas were built in the provinces of Benguela, Bié, Kwanza Sul and Moxico.
Promotion of international humanitarian law (IHL)
In the framework of its humanitarian mission, the ICRC establishes contact with the Angolan authorities, the media, as well as the population. Particularly in Cabinda, the ICRC has been promoting the institution and its operations. These activities aim to facilitate a mutual understanding among arms carriers, to inform the population about the services available, and who the ICRC's beneficiaries are. Since January 2006, dissemination sessions were carried out to around 4,292 arms carriers and 23,003 political, traditional and religious leaders, teachers and NGOs.
The ICRC assists the Angolan State in implementing IHL in its national legislation. Thus, In June 2006, the ICRC sponsored two experts from Angola's Ministry of External Relations to attend an annual IHL seminar organized by the ICRC in South Africa. This seminar gathers parliamentarians, governmental representatives and other officials from Southern African countries, the objective being to share information on the implementation of IHL within each country of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In September 2006, the ICRC was invited by the Instituto Superior de Educaç=E3o Militar (ISEM), to deliver a session on IHL, during a course on Command and Direction for 17 senior officers and generals of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), and from the National Police.
In addition, in October, during the SADC's third Regional Military Intelligence course, the ICRC was invited by the Angolan military authorities to deliver a session on the Law (IHL) of Armed Conflict and on its mandate for around 27 officers working in the Military Intelligence branch of several countries.
Cooperation with the Angolan Red Cross (CVA)
In October 2006, a General Assembly was organized for the CVA during which the new statutes and a new National Development Plan were adopted. Also a new President and National Council were elected, paving the way for in-depth reform of the CVA.