UN sanctions against Angolan rebels beginning to hurt, Security Council told

UN sanctions against the Angolan UNITA rebel movement are beginning to have an impact, Ambassador Robert Fowler of Canada told the Security Council today during a briefing on his visit to Angola last week.
Ambassador Fowler, the head of the Council's Angola Sanctions Committee, said his information was that UNITA had to sell rough diamonds to procure funds and was obtaining arms from international brokers rather than direct from governments. UNITA employed trainers provided by arms dealers, rather than mercenaries, while fuel and transport were also provided by private dealers, he added.

"If the outside world ceases assisting [UNITA leader Jonas] Savimbi, he will not be able to maintain this war," Ambassador Fowler later told journalists. "The responsibility for this war has been laid squarely at his door," he added.

The Council also heard from the Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Sir Kieran Prendergast, who presented a report from the Secretary-General which said that the humanitarian situation in Angola is "critical."

The Secretary-General was "deeply concerned by the human suffering as well as the destruction of property and infrastructure in Angola -- a country richly endowed with natural resources and with immense development potential," Sir Kieran said.

But Mr. Annan had reiterated that the United Nations would not abandon the people of Angola, by continuing to provide humanitarian, human rights and development assistance to the country, he added.

Security Council President Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said after its meeting that the situation of Angola was "extraordinarily sad." Angola was the "single worst place on earth for a child to be born, with the highest infant mortality rate, the highest chance a child would not live to the age of five," he added.

During the Council session, Angola's Deputy Foreign Minister, Georges Chicoti, said his government was committed to a democratic and reconciled Angola through the Lusaka Protocol -- the 1994 agreement which established a programme for national reconciliation -- and would continue to cooperate with the UN and other bodies.