Protracted conflict in Angola a major cause for international concern, says Annan

The protracted conflict in Angola and the risks of spillover into the neighbouring states remain a major concern for the international community, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the Security Council on the UN office in the country.
Rebels of the Uni=E3o Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) bore the "primary responsibility for the current state of affairs," Mr. Annan added. "UNITA's refusal to comply with its obligations under the Lusaka Protocol -- in particular the failure to demilitarize and allow state administration to be extended throughout the country -- precipitated the resumption of widespread hostilities."

The Lusaka Protocol, signed in 1994 in the Zambian capital, established a programme for national reconciliation in Angola which included the merging of the government and rebel armies.

Mr. Annan's report said that after a recent offensive the Angolan government had re-established its authority in areas formerly controlled by UNITA, including the rebel stronghold in the central highlands. As a result some measure of stability had been achieved in several regions.

However, he added, the humanitarian situation remains "extremely alarming," with widespread insecurity and disruptions in the rehabilitation process.

The war-affected civilian population was estimated at 3.7 million people, according to the Secretary-General's report, of whom nearly 2 million were internally displaced. Also, 42 per cent of all Angolan children under five were at least moderately underweight, and agricultural production for 2000 would not be adequate to feed the whole population.

Mr. Annan urged international donors to respond as generously as possible to this year's UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Angola. He further expressed his hope that a draft status-of-mission agreement could be concluded for the United Nations Office in Angola so that it could start work in accordance with the wishes of the Security Council.

The Secretary-General also called on UNITA to "demonstrate convincingly" that it is prepared to fulfill its commitments under the Lusaka Protocol and seek genuine national reconciliation.

Ultimately, he said, only a political solution could help restore durable peace and security in Angola.