Humanitarian situation in Angola - reporting period: 1-15 Feb 2003

Critical Issues

  • A fourth anti-tank mine incident since December occurred on the Kuito - Huambo road near Chinguar in Bié Province.

  • Efforts are made to access populations cut-off from assistance, including air drops in Luvemba in Huambo Province.

  • The condition of the airstrip continues to hamper humanitarian assistance in Mavinga in Kuando Kubango Province.

  • Humanitarian activities for 4,000 returnee families resume in Amboiva commune in Kuanza Sul Province.

  • Critical needs are reported in several locations, including Muriege, Alto Chicapa, Muconda and Cazage and Tchitala in Lunda Sul Province.

  • The road Malanje - Cambondo is reopened following mine verification and clearance in Malanje Province.

  • Essential drugs are lacking in Cazombo in Moxico Province.

  • Thousands of refugees are spontaneously returning to Kimbele Municipality in Uíge Province.

  • Access remains difficult to many areas in Uíge and Zaire Provinces.

Provincial Update

Bengo Province: According to recent vulnerability assessments, 157,834 persons in the province require food assistance. During a food security meeting on 11 February, partners reported that they plan to provide food to 48,891 beneficiaries in Dande, Bula Atumba, Pango Aluquem, Dembos, Quibaxe, Icolo e Bengo and Ambriz Municipalities in February, representing only 30 percent of the population in need of food assistance. Local authorities will also provide assistance to community child feeding programmes, vulnerable groups and demobilised soldiers arriving from other provinces.

A trypanosomiasis screening was conducted on 14 February in Cabiri in Icolo e Bengo Muncipality. Five new cases were identified and referred for treatment to local health facilities.

More than 270 persons remain in the Mimbota gathering area awaiting transport to their areas of origin in Bengo, Bié, Huambo, Huíla, Kuanza Norte, Kuanza Sul, Luanda, Malanje, Moxico and Uíge Provinces.

Benguela Province: Approximately 240 MTs of food were distributed to 14,647 persons in the four remaining gathering areas (GA) in the province. Ex-combatants and their families from the Malongo GA received the distribution in the Chongoroi transit centre where they have been waiting for transport since the closure of Malongo. More than 1,000 ex-combatants and their families have recently arrived in or returned to Caimbambo Municipality and the Passe and Chingongo gathering areas. Some arrivals have not yet been registered and others are returning to the GAs in search of assistance not received before departing. On February 13, humanitarian partners and Government and military authorities met to discuss issues related to ex-combatants and their family members who remain in the gathering areas, including the demobilisation process, food assistance, resettlement kits and the security of humanitarian personnel.

In Tchiluama, Bocoio Municipality, the Provincial Department of Health and NGOs began a one-month workshop on 3 February to train health promoters. More than 2,430 persons have returned to Tchiluama and require health assistance.

In Benguela and Lobito town, heavy rainfall has caused inundations in some neighbourhoods. Partners are concerned that the lack of basic sanitation and drainage in these neighbourhoods will lead to an increase in malaria and water-borne diseases. The number of children admitted to the therapeutic feeding centre in Benguela town increased from December to January, with 54 and 77 admissions, respectively.

Nineteen cases of measles were confirmed in children under five in Baia Farta Municipality during November and December. An emergency vaccination campaign was conducted to control the situation.

Preliminary information also suggests that admissions in the feeding centre in Balombo increased slightly. Lack of basic sanitation, particularly during the rainy season, and depleted food stocks are the main causes of increased malnutrition. Partners plan to increase nutritional screening in newly accessible and return areas and adjust nutritional programmes accordingly.

Bié Province: A anti-tank mine incident occurred on 7 February on the Kuito - Chinguar road, nine km from Cangala and four km from the site of the 13 January mine incident. Four persons were wounded. This is the fourth mine accident in three months on the Huambo - Kuito road.

Municipal authorities from N=B4harea have reported a critical nutrition situation in Chimuco and surrounding areas. Broken bridges and poor road conditions limit access to the locations. Food insecurity has also been reported in Chivaulo.

According to provincial authorities, 1,566 demobilised personnel and family members have returned to Bié Province from 11 provinces. More than half of the returnees are from Kuanza Sul, Benguela and Kuando Kubango Provinces.

Huambo Province: On 6 - 7 February, WFP airdropped approximately 87 MTs of food to 4,920 beneficiaries in Luvemba in Huambo Province. Populations in Luvemba had been cut off from assistance since the end of November due to poor road conditions that impeded the passage of heavy trucks. High rates of malnutrition in the area are suspected, based on increasing admissions of persons from Luvemba to feeding centres in nearby Bailundo. The collapsed bridge preventing access from Bailundo to Alto Hama has also been repaired and partners distributed food to approximately 20,000 beneficiaries in Cululu, near Bailundo.

Following the resumption of road traffic between Bailundo and Mungo, partners conducted a blanket feeding for 14,081 children under five on 7 - 8 February. During the distribution, a rapid nutritional screening identified 19 percent global acute malnutrition and 47 severely malnourished children were transferred to the therapeutic feeding centre in Bailundo. More than 2,220 children were identified as moderately malnourished and 4,243 children are at risk of malnutrition.

In the Chiteta and Esfinge gathering areas, the most commonly registered illnesses during January were malaria, acute respiratory infections, acute diarrhoea and sexually-transmitted diseases. Provincial authorities report that 15,531 demobilised personnel and family members have left gathering areas for locations within the province. Partners remain concerned about mine infestation and lack of basic social conditions in return areas.

Huíla Province: Access to Chicomba, Kuvango and Chipindo remains difficult due to heavy rains in the region. An inter-agency assessment mission took place from 9 - 14 February to Chipindo and Chicomba. During the visit to Chipindo, approximately 600 persons were registered for assistance. Populations expressed interest in moving to Bambi commune or other locations in Huíla, Huambo and Bié Provinces. Provincial authorities are concerned about the reinstallation of 5,662 persons expected to arrive from the Galangue gathering area due to lack of resettlement kits and shelter and insufficient food stocks. During the visit to Chicomba, local authorities reported that they expect the returnee population in the municipality to increase from 28,000 to 60,000, including 3,400 ex-combatants and family members from Galangue. Although the Chicomba airstrip has been demined and the local administration has begun to clear the high grass, it is unlikely that the airstrip will be usable until after the rainy season. Road access from Matala through Kuveli and Que is difficult due to mud and the road from Caconda cannot be used due to a broken bridge. The mission found that local building materials are not readily available and health infrastructures require repair. Partners have opened a medical facility in the town and water interventions, routine vaccinations, agricultural assistance and a distribution of didactic materials are planned. Food rations were distributed in the location in January and a second two-month distribution is planned for the end of February. Limited quantities of vegetable seeds and tools were also distributed on 7 February.

A registration re-verification exercise conducted in Quilengues Municipality confirmed the presence of 2,009 returnee families. Approximately 260 families are demobilised personnel and family members. All families have received land and agricultural inputs for the current agricultural season.

On 13 February, 81 persons arrived at a transit centre in Lubango from Bié Province. Provincial authorities are providing food assistance while the persons await transport to their areas of origin.

Kuando Kubango Province: In Mavinga, despite repairs in December, the airstrip was closed for seven days in early February due to heavy rains and the rapidly deteriorating landing surface. Road access to Mavinga is still impossible due to mine infestation. Partners are concerned about possible breaks in the food and essential drugs pipelines for an estimated 100,000 beneficiaries if more permanent repairs are not undertaken. On 12 February, an anti-personnel mine was activated by a water truck within the hospital compound near the newly erected water tank. The area has been demarcated and will be demined.

Provincial authorities reported the arrival of 3,454 resettlement kits for demobilised personnel from the Soba Mattias gathering area returning to locations within the province. Kits for ex-combatants returning from other provinces have not yet been received. Although food assistance has been provided to the more than 800 former UNITA soldiers transported from Jamba to Soba Mattias, shelter materials and emergency non-food items are not yet available.

Kuanza Norte Province: According to provincial authorities, approximately 2,200 ex-combatants and family members received assistance and were transported to their areas of origin. More than 600 persons were also transported to Lucala transit centre.

Despite repairs to the bridge over the Zenza River at the beginning of January, the poor condition of the road connecting Ngonguembo and Ndalatando is hampering assistance to approximately 4,000 persons in Ngonguembo.

In the water sector, partners estimate that approximately 90 percent of returnees are gathering water from unprotected water points and water-borne diseases continue to be the main cause of mortality in the province. A water and sanitation programme benefiting 10,000 persons has been implemented in the Kashongongo camp in Cela Municipality.

Kuanza Sul Province: Humanitarian activities have resumed in Amboiva commune in Seles Municipality to assist approximately 4,000 returnee families. The main road linking Amboiva to the municipal seat in Seles remains closed due to suspected mine infestation and partners must use an alternative route through Waku Kungo and Cassongue.

Lunda Sul Province: Critical needs have been reported in several areas throughout the province. Four hundred persons from remote areas and Angolan refugees returning from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have arrived in Muriege commune in Muconda municipality in search of food assistance. Approximately 2,900 persons in Alto Chicapa are at risk of food insecurity due to logistical constraints that prevent partners from providing assistance. Returning populations in between Muconda and Cazage are also cut-off from assistance due to poor road conditions and damaged bridges. Access to Tchitala in Cacolo Municipality is impossible due to a recent mine incident that led to the closure of the road Saurimo - Cacolo. Local authorities report that as many as 1,500 persons are food insecure in Tchitala.

Partners registered 3,815 persons in Luma Cassai and 1,364 persons in Cazoa in Dala Municipality in early February. Approximately 150 MTs of food were distributed to more than 14,000 beneficiaries during the first week of the month in Muconda Municipality.

The Mine Action Sub-Group met on 7 February to discuss the threat of mines in locations where humanitarian assistance is being planned or is underway. Participants included representatives of the provincial Government, military authorities, UN Agencies and NGOs. The mobile health clinic in Tchicundo commune has been suspended due to suspected mine infestation.

Malanje Province: On 15 February, the road Malanje - Cambondo was reopened following verification of a 16 km stretch of road, the removal of two anti-tank and four anti-personnel mines and the creation of passing areas every 500 metres. A one-day training workshop was also held to inform UN Agency and NGO drivers of the risk of mines and safety measures to avoid mine incidents. The road had been closed since a mine incident in late December.

According to municipal authorities, more than 3,047 persons who have returned to their areas of origin in Soqueco commune in Cacuso Municipality are in critical need of food and health assistance, water and sanitation interventions, clothing and essential non-food items. Reports of malnourished children have also been received.

On 13 - 14 February, Government representatives, UN Agencies and NGOs conducted an inter-agency rapid needs assessment in Kiwaba Nzoji Municipality, 86 km north of Malanje town. Access to the municipality remains difficult, particularly during the rainy season. Team members found that all social infrastructures are destroyed, basic health services are only provided in the municipal seat and no routine immunisation activities are underway. The most critical needs are food assistance, seeds and tools, essential drugs, clothing and kitchen sets. Although more approximately 2,750 families have spontaneously returned to areas of origin in the municipality, only 950 families have been provided with non-food items, including soap, blankets, water containers and kitchen sets.

The Technical Group on Verification and Registration conducted an exercise in Cangandala to verify the number of IDPs from Kambundi Katembo and Luquembo in Malane Province and Mussende in Kuanza Sul Province. The team verified 4,096 IDPs and found that more than half of the IDPs from Mussende have returned. Some IDPs have also resettled in areas with better possibilities for agricultural activities, including Zema-Zema, Caribo and Fazenda Moreira.

According to provincial authorities, 1,698 persons from Damba and Ngangassol gathering areas had been transported to their areas of origin as of 21 January. The majority of ex-combatants and family members returned to locations in Malanje Province, although approximately 200 returned to Bengo, Luanda, Kuanza Norte and Zaire Provinces. More than 700 persons from gathering areas in Kuanza Norte, Kuanza Sul, Lunda Norte and Zaire Provinces have returned to Malanje Province. Lack of transportation is hampering additional return activities.

The first Provincial Workshop on Human Rights Training, Evaluation and Plan of Action was conducted on 12 - 14 February. Municipal administrators, traditional authorities, provincial judicial and military authorities and members of civil society attended the workshop.

Several health interventions have been carried out, including the distribution of impregnated mosquito nets to populations in the Ngangassol gathering area and a refresher course on reproductive health for 24 health professionals.

Moxico Province: Health partners report a critical lack of essential drugs and vaccines in the Cazombo hospital. The principal diseases registered during 1,257 consultations in January included malaria (48 percent), intestinal parasites (24 percent) and influenza (10 percent). Nutritional and vaccination screenings of children returning from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue and 20 activists are conducting an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in neighbourhoods, markets and army and police installations in Cazombo and the Calala gathering area. The crude mortality rate in Calala during January was recorded at 0.1 deaths per 100,000 persons per day. Twenty cases of sexually-transmitted diseases were reported.

On 5 - 6 February, provincial authorities transported 132 demobilised personnel who had been living at the Cazombo airport to Huambo and Bié Provinces. Twenty-seven more persons were transported to Luena on 14 February. Demobilised personnel remaining at the airport have been provided with plastic sheeting to construct temporary shelters.

Partners have rehabilitated three schools in Alto Zambeze, two schools in Luau and one school in Lumbala Nguimbo. Teachers for the 5,000 school-age children in Cazombo Municipality are still required.

Funds for demining operations are urgently required, particularly in areas where large numbers of Angolan refugees are returning from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, including Lumbala Nguimbo Municipality, and the roads between Lumbala Nguimbo, Lucusse and Lumbala Kaquengue.

Uíge Province: More than 13,550 refugees returning from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have reportedly arrived in Icoca, Cuango, Alto Zaza and Kimbele town in Kimbele Municipality. These locations are currently inaccessible to the humanitarian community due to logistical constraints. Reports from local authorities and churches indicate that populations have not received any assistance and are in need of non-food items and health services.

The main road between Luanda - Uíge remains closed to humanitarian partners due to the poor condition of the road south of Quitexe. The road through Ndalatando remains open, although conditions north of Samba Cajú are rapidly deteriorating. No direct route exists between Zaire and Uíge Provinces, creating difficulties for partners with programmes in both provinces.

Food assistance has been provided to approximately 14,000 persons in the Uamba gathering area and 1,100 ex-combatants temporarily sheltered at the Kituma transit centre in Uíge town. The ex-combatants in the overcrowded transit centre have been transported from Bengo, Kuanza Norte and Zaire Provinces and are waiting for resettlement kits before return to their areas of origin.

Provincial authorities are working closely with NGOs to collect information about areas where mine infestation is suspected. Awareness activities have recently been conducted in Uíge town and Negage.

Provincial education authorities report that at least 60 percent of students in grades 7 - 12 may not be able to enrol in school due to lack of infrastructure.

Zaire Province: Facilities to receive large numbers of returning refugees along the border near Luvo remain inadequate and populations must often wait for up to three weeks before being transported to their areas of origin. Partners have constructed and equipped a health post in Luvo.

An assessment mission to Kinzau commune in Tomboco Municipality identified critical needs among the 6,844 persons in Mongo, Jambo and Sembo. Approximately 1,500 families have recently received assistance.

Access to Noqui remains difficult due to a broken bridge over the Ponzo River. Access is possible through the Democratic Republic of Congo, although humanitarian partners are hesitant to use this route. The Madimba gathering area was temporarily cut-off during the reporting period due to poor road conditions.

OCHA Angola
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