Angola - Landmines Country Report

Situation Report
Originally published
18 March 96 - Demobilised soldiers from Angola's army and the opposition UNITA movement, who were fighting each other before a peace accord two years ago, are now swapping war stories and learning how to clear mines.(Source: Reuters)

12 Feb. 96 - South Africa's top general arrived in Angola on the first visit by a senior military officer since the two countries ended their undeclared war in the late 1980s. General Georg Meiring, chief of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) noted that South Africa was already helping Angola clear land mines. "One thing we did discuss was looking after the mine problem in Angola. There is already a team from South Africa busy with a demining contract with the UN and we are also sending people here to establish a demining school", Meiring said. (Source: UN/DPKO)

11 Feb 96 - The FAA from Coconda deployed soldiers along the Coconda/Caluquembe road, to check bridges for mines. This has been treated as a cease-fire violation by UNAVEM, since they were not informed in advance. (Source: UN/DPKO)

12 Dec. 95 - Responding to criticism that the UN peacekeeping operation in Angola was stalled, the Secretary-General remarked: "Many of the factors that prevented implementation of the earlier peace accords are still very much in evidence -
distrust, continuing military activities, foot-dragging over quartering and related activities, obstruction of free movement and the restoration of government administration, lack of respect for the UN and other international personnel." The UN has been unable to start its preliminary mine clearance operations, which must proceed before its forces can be fully deployed.



9 Feb 96 - Despite a 15-month cease-fire and several UN arms embargoes, Angola's government and UNITA rebels continue to receive weapons that fuel a continuing low-level war, Human Rights Watch says in a new report. These new weapon shipments are seen as undermining the demobilization and demilitarization efforts which as the core of the peace process.

Human Rights Watch indicates that finding weapons backer is difficult since "some of the shipments to UNITA have gone through surreptitious routes". This has been exacerbated by the maintenance of mercenaries by both sides. One South African-based frim . Executive Outcomes (EO) has been employed by both sides to provide security and training. Although Angolan President Dos Santos has stated that EO's contract has been cancelled and all its personnel are out of the country, Human Rights Watch argues that the firm might be using several front companies to carry out contracts. The new report names Saracen International, Stuart Mills International and Shibata Security as suspected EO front companies helping in mine clearance. (Source: First!)

8 Feb 96 - The Security Council, by resolution 1045, renewed UNAVEM III's mandate for three months. The resolution expressed deep concern at "the numerous delays in the implementation of the Lusaka Protocol". The Security Council urged the government and UNITA to maintain an effective cease-fire, conclude military talks on integrating the armed forces and actively undertake mine clearing. The UN states that joint demining, opening of raods and the free circulation of people
throughout the country is imperative for national reconciliation. (Source: DPKO)

6 Feb 96 - Brian Atwood, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has sent a letter to UNITA leader Savimbi suggesting that both UNITA and the government begin to eliminate their stockpiles of landmines. (Source: HEWS)

Dec 95 - "The whole of Angola must be considered a mined area." That comment, made by a South African brigadier, sums up the dismal land mine situation in Angola. For three decades land mines have been used to devastating effect by a wide array of groups. "The scope and complexity of the mine threat is probably greater than in any other country and will require a
well-coordinated approach," notes the Executive Summary of the UN Mine Action Programme for Angola.

Roads, waterways, railroads, airports, ports, towns and private dwellings were mined in a scorched earth conflict that meant to deny the enemy land and resources that could not be held by army personnel. Bridges were mined to prevent saboteurs from attacking them; they were mined again after destruction to prevent repair work. Soldiers in retreat on both sides during the 1992 strife are reported to have mined schools, hospitals and markets.

Food supplies have been seriously affected by mines. People trapped in beseiged cities were forced to venture into mine infested areas to get to food. The 200,000 strong town of Luena, ringed by defensive minefields, is almost completely dependent on WFP food aid because the minefields have reduced the amount of land available for sustainable agriculture.

Repatriation of some 250,000 refugees from abroad, and resettlement of one million displaced persons inside Angola, is an essential part of the peace process. But the 9-15 million land mines threaten to derail peaceful repatriation and will ensure that Angola remains an economic basketcase for years to come. The mine menace poses an immediate threat to the in-coming UNAVEM III peace-keepers, mandated to hold the peace and begin a massive national reconstruction effort. The re-establishment of regional governments, and plans to hold elections may be dependent on mine clearance.


The UN estimates that 1.5% of the population has been injured in mine or UXO incidents. An ICRC survey in 1990 determined that 69% of the injured were walking on paths at the time of the blast, 15% on roads, and 16% in inhabitated areas. Angola has the highest number of amputees in the world, estimated at 70,000 in the UN's 1995 Angola Appeal. The ICRC has a rehabilitation center in Bomba Alto, where 11 staff manufacture prosthesis. Between Jan-Nov. 90, 631 new patients were fitted with prosthesis at the center, and a total of 1,127 prostheses were manufactured there for the year.


The following data was provided by Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF):

Bie Province: Severely mined. Movement is restricted by mines and the town of Kuito has been mined and remined, often with booby-traps.

Kuando Kubango Province: Severely mined. The Mavingo Valley is abandoned because of mines. In Cuito Cuanavale only 8,000 out of 33,000 planted mines have been identified.

Lunda Norte Province: Severely mined. All roads, bridges and riverbanks are considered mined.

Lunda Sul Province: Severely mined. Thirty major or strategic bridges, and 58 secondary bridges, are deswtroyed and most are surrounded by uncleared minefields.

Malanje Province: Severely mined. The municipalities of Malanje, Massango, Capunda, Quibango and Quirama are mined. Power lines and the airport are mined. Access to the hotel near the famous Kalandula Waterfalls is mined.

Moxico Province: Severely mined. The town of Luena is encircled by mines and most roads are mined.

Zaire Province: Mined. Demining operations were carried out in 1991 along major roads, though some are still mined. Border posts at M'banza Kongo-Luvo, Noqui and Beu-Fiscak are mined. Quimbele and its surroundings are mined.

Number of Mines

The UN estimate for land mines in Angola is 9-15 million.

Country Statistics

Existing mines:
AT 3,000,000
AP 12,000,000
total 15,000,000
Cleared mines:
AT 25,000
AP 55,000
total 80,000

Demining Capacity

See Demining Programme report for Angola.


The end of the Cold War did not restore peace or order to this mineral rich country located in south-west Africa. Angola is 1,246,700 sq kms in area, bordered by Namibia, Zaire, Zambia and Congo. The capital city is Luanda. There are 18 provinces. The estimated population of 12,178,000 is matched by the presence of an estimated 9-15 million landmines.

The sowing of mines began in the 1960s when Portugal bitterly resisted anti-colonial movements, of which the most important were MPLA (Popular Front for the Liberation of Angola), led by Jose Eduardo Santos, and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), led by Jonas Savimbi. The end of Portugese rule in 1975 was followed by economic collapse, civil war and military intervention by the super-powers and regional neighbors, all with an eye on Angola's extensive oil and mineral reserves.

"While Portugese, Cuban and South African forces are known to have deployed landmines during operations in Angola, the overwhelming responsibility for landmines use lies with UNITA and the Angolan Army (FAPLA)," report authors Roberts and Williams in After the Guns Fall Silent: The Enduring Legacy of Landmines.

Africa Watch reports that mines were an integral part of UNITA's hit-and-run war strategy: "At one time or another, almost every part of the country was affected, as the foci of battle rapidly shifted backwards and forwards. Because of this mobility, the disruption of land communications was a major aim of UNITA, and the mining of roads, paths and bridges was consequently an important strategy." The rebels also preferred to deploy anti-handling devices, and laid mines at random, unmarked.

In Lisbon, on 31 May 91, peace accords were signed between the MPLA and UNITA leaders as famine stalked the countryside. National elections were held under UN supervision between 29-30 Sep. 92. UNITA refused to concede defeat to the MPLA. The peace process was scuttled and war resumed.

Over the next two years, much of Angola was ruined. Over 3 million people were left dependent on food aid or humanitarian assistance. In Mar. 93 the Security Council authorized the creation of the Humanitarian Assistance Cooperation Unit (UCAH) to coordinate aid relief. On 20 Nov. 94 the Lusaka Protocol was signed, allowing for a ceasefire. UNITA accepted the election results and the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNIVEM III) began one of the most ambitious humanitarian intervention operations in history.

Mine notes

Relief workers estimate there to be 34 types of landmines in Angola. There are many Russian-made mines, including the TMN-46, PMD-7-TS, M-19, PP-MI-SP, and the POMZ-2 anti-personnel mine. Activated by a tripwire, the POMZ-2 is stake mounted; rotting stakes pose a special hazard for deminers. The American M-18A1 mine has been found in Angola; with a kill radius of 50 meters, it releases 700 steel balls to cause maximum damage. The TMA-3, made in Yugoslavia, is an anti-tank mine that is non-detectable with hand-held metallic detectors (there is no metallic content in the mine fuse or body).

Inhumane Weapons Convention


Moratorium on the export of anti-personnel mines

no Mines found in Angola and their origins

PRB M35 Belgium
Type-72a China
Type-72b China
PP-MI-SR Czech Republic
PT-Mi-Ba-III Czech Republic
M59 France
PPM-2 Germany
VS-50 Italy
VS-MK2 Italy
Valmara 69 Italy
MON-100 Russian Federation
MON-50 Russian Federation
OZM-4 Russian Federation
PMN Russian Federation
PMN-2 Russian Federation
POMZ-2M Russian Federation
TM-46 Russian Federation
TM-57 Russian Federation
TM-62 Russian Federation
TM-62M Russian Federation
No. 8 South Africa
R2M1 South Africa
Mark-7 United Kingdom
M-14 United States
M-15 United States
M-16A1 United States
M-19 United States
M-24 United States
M18A1 United States
PROM-1 Yugoslavia
TMA-2 Yugoslavia
TMA-3 Yugoslavia
TMA-4 Yugoslavia
TMA-5 Yugoslavia