Angola

Angola: Military gains, humanitarian losses

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JOHANNESBURG, 18 January (IRIN) - As the UN security Council prepared to discuss the crisis in Angola, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned in a report that the humanitarian situation remains "extremely alarming" and the civil war risks spilling over into neighbouring countries.
Annan said on Tuesday that although the government's military campaign against UNITA rebels has succeeded in re-establishing state control in a swathe of territory in the central highlands and eastern region, the hostilities have continued to cause "immense suffering" for the Angolan people with widespread insecurity and destruction of the country's infrastructure. "The recent escalation of fighting into Namibia is also a major source of concern," Annan said.

The war-affected civilian population is estimated at 3.7 million people, according to the Secretary-General's report, of whom nearly 2 million are internally displaced persons. Meanwhile, 42 percent of children under 5 years of age are at least moderately underweight, while agricultural production for 2000 will again fall short of national demand.

Annan called on international donors to respond generously to this year's US $258 million consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Angola. He also expressed his hope that a draft status-of-mission agreement could be concluded with the Angolan government so that the United Nations Office in Angola could start work.

Annan, while noting that UNITA "bears the primary responsibility" for the current state of affairs, said "only a political solution can help to restore durable peace and security." He added that the "evolving situation in Angola may offer new opportunities to initiate an inclusive dialogue", and urged UNITA to demonstrate that it is prepared to seek genuine reconciliation under the terms of the 1994 UN-brokered Lusaka peace protocol.

"The Lusaka protocol is still alive," a former Angola-based Western diplomat told IRIN. "The international community is trying to push the process forward in the sense that some kind of political settlement should follow all this military conflict."

[ENDS]

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