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Angola: Annan condemns UNITA train attack that left over 100 dead

Angola: Annan condemns UNITA train attack that left over 100 dead

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today condemned a rebel offensive that killed scores of civilians last Friday in Angola, his spokesman said in a statement issued in New York.

"The Secretary-General condemns the deliberate attack on a train on 10 August in which a very high number of civilians were killed," the spokesman said. "He notes that UNITA [National Union for the Total Independence of Angola] has claimed - and therefore bears the responsibility for - this indefensible loss of life."

According to the statement, the Secretary-General continues to be very disturbed by the military and humanitarian situation in the country. "This incident underlines the urgent need for a political settlement of the conflict, to achieve a durable peace and stability in Angola."

In a related development, attacks by UNITA in northern Angola have caused civilians to flee to the Bas Congo Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the weekend, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

UNHCR has registered more than 6,000 Angolan refugees who fled to the DRC following an early August offensive by UNITA on the town of Beu, spokesman Kris Janowski told the press in Geneva. The agency plans to transfer the refugees to villages further away from the border.

Over the weekend, UNHCR staff visited three villages - located some 50 kilometres from the DRC border - that have been proposed by local authorities for the settlement of up to 6,000 refugees. The agency will deploy teams of workers to the proposed villages today to begin parcelling 0.5 hectares of land to each refugee family, the spokesman said.

Enough medical supplies to cover the needs of 10,000 people for three months are being distributed to health clinics in the area, according to Mr. Janowski. "UNHCR and health partners also plan to send additional medical staff to the clinics to cope with the increase in numbers in the area," he observed, noting that nutritional problems are rampant. "An initial assessment shows that 5 per cent of children under five suffer severe malnutrition."

Before the recent influx from Angola, the DRC was hosting over 180,000 Angolan refugees. UNHCR was assisting over 70,000 of them in the Bas Congo and Katanga Provinces.