Humanitarian plight in Angola must not be ignored, Security Council told
Calling humanitarian conditions in Angola “among the worst in the world,” a top United Nations relief official today told the UN Security Council that the protracted emergency in the country needed urgent attention.
“Remember Angola,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima told the Council at the outset of an open meeting, which heard statements by Georges Chikoti, Vice-Minister for External Relations of Angola, and representatives of close to 20 countries. The ruinous civil war had displaced nearly one third of the population, he said, and conditions were “truly shocking.”
Mr. Oshima said that life expectancy in Angola was only 44 years, while two thirds of all people lived in poverty. “The status of children is catastrophic,” he said, pointing out that one third of all Angolans died before reaching the age of five. He added that evidence indicated that child soldiers were once again being forced to fight in the country’s devastating civil war.
Almost one third of the country’s population of 12 million is displaced, Mr. Oshima said. He blamed insecurity on the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), which “continues to destabilize large parts of the countryside.” He also called attention to the “worrying trend” of increasing harassment of humanitarian workers and looting of relief supplies.
“Despite the difficult situation, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been striving to meet the humanitarian needs of the displaced and other vulnerable people,” he said. Some 1 million Angolans received food aid, while more received health care and other benefits, but even this magnitude of assistance represented “only a fraction of the overall needs,” he added.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator welcomed steps being taken by the Government, including the allocation of more than $50 million to the national emergency programme. At the same time, he cautioned, “more needs to be done.” He urged the Government to repair infrastructure, establish days of tranquillity for immunization drives, and cease all forms of harassment. “Most importantly, both parties must desist from using military strategies that directly impact on civilians, and ensure that humanitarian agencies have unhindered and continuous access to all affected populations.”
While appealing to donors to assist Angola, he stressed that only the end of war in Angola would end the country’s crisis. “We must ensure that we are innovative and courageous and that we have explored every possible channel to assist the Angolans in achieving peace,” he said. “Only then will the tragic and protracted humanitarian situation in Angola begin to dissipate.”