Thirty years of conflict have left terrible scars on the country and its people: an economy completely ruined by the war effort, rundown state infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced several times from their places of origin and the continuing problem of land-mines.
The humanitarian situation deteriorated since December 1998, as renewed fighting has created waves of displacement towards provincial capitals or towns. The needs are increasing for food and non-food assistance and as a result, the situation has compelled many humanitarian organizations to switch from development projects to emergency, such as organising distributions of food and non-food for internally displaced people.
However, as the gray areas between safe and unsafe regions continue to expand, access has become extremely hazardous for humanitarian organisations. It is difficult to gain an accurate picture of the situation to assess what is actually happening on the ground, as the security situation remains extremely unstable and transport links throughout the country are precarious.
The ICRC delegation in Angola is located in Luanda with offices in Lobito, Huambo and Kuito.
Ongoing food and agricultural evaluations conducted in the Planalto region have indicated a clear deterioration in the civilian population's nutritional situation. Despite adequate harvests this year, the conflict and widespread pillaging of crops have created a serious problem.
After careful analysis of the economic security situation, the ICRC has started to implement programmes to contribute to the agricultural production and general food security of those in the Planalto region to secure conditions of economic self-sufficiency.
Programmes to be initiated include a major agricultural programme, food assistance programme, stock of non-food items and a reforestation programme. Assistance will initially focus on outer-lying zones of the provincial capitals where for security and logistical reasons access is more difficult for other humanitarian organizations still involved in covering the needs in the cities.
Between April and May 1999 the ICRC embarked on emergency food programmes to meet the population's needs, increased by the resumption of the fighting.
From its logistic base in Lobito, the ICRC transports supplies to the Planalto region and also to its operation in the Republic of the Congo, which receives 363 tonnes of food per month.
General Medical Assistance:
Following the resumption of hostilities in December 1998, the ICRC started an assistance programme in the hospital of Huambo. Since December, all wounded people arriving for surgical treatment have been assisted by the ICRC programme. The ICRC has then extended its assistance to all emergency cases treated in the surgical and obstetrics departments of the Huambo provincial hospital. Beginning in June, 1999, the ICRC started support and supervision to 5 primary health care posts situated in the countryside in the Huambo area.
The new management by the ICRC in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of the orthopaedic centres in Luanda, in addition to those of Kuito and Huambo was a significant and positive step. The Luanda centre, previously financially assisted by the Swedish Red Cross, is the third centre managed by the ICRC in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and was rehabilitated before becoming fully operational in August 1999.
Orthopaedic activities have been reduced owing to security problems. Similarly, the transportation of amputees from other provinces to the orthopaedic centres has been suspended and should resume as soon as the centre in Luanda is properly active.
The ICRC activities in Angola cover a wide spectrum of humanitarian activities, such as:
Visits to prisoners to assess their psychological and material conditions of detention:
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC continued its efforts to gain access to all detainees held in connection with the Angolan conflict in order to ensure satisfactory treatment
Restoring family links through the Red Cross Message Network (RCM):
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC handled 7,057 RCMs for civilians through its network covering the whole country, in collaboration with the Angolan Red Cross
Assistance to people displaced due to conflict:
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC:
- initiated a programme to provide displaced people and residents who have access to farmland (67,000 families/335,000 people) in the Planalto region (mainly in the outskirts of Huambo) with a means of survival, such as seeds and other agricultural inputs, and food rations for six-months periods to enable them to bridge the gap between two harvest seasons
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC ensured access of displaced people living in the outlying districts of Humabo and Uige to adequat medical treatment by supervising health care posts assisted the surgical wards of Huambo hospital
Organising lectures and courses on International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the International Red Cross Movement and the role of the ICRC in Angola for members of police, armed forces, authorities, and local people:
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC trained 823 officers of the armed and police forces in international humanitarian law.
Organising mine awareness programmes for schoolchildren in the Planalto area, alerting them to the dangers of mines, through musical and theatrical performances.
Between January and September 1999, the ICRC conducted 58 mine awareness sessions for 2,913 primary school pupils in the Planalto region.
Budget and Staff:
The 2000 budget for ICRC Angola is currently: SFr 61,933,972.
- 44 expatriates.
- 525 locally hired staff.