UN relief official urges continued international engagement in Angola

UN relief official urges continued international engagement in Angola

Describing a severe humanitarian crisis plaguing Angola, a senior United Nations official today urged the international community to support relief efforts in the country.

Erick de Mul, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Angola, said the conflict-ravaged nation faced a “dramatic” situation. “The statistics are shocking,” he told reporters in New York, noting that life expectancy in Angola averages 44 years, while 30 per cent of all children die before reaching the age of five.

Of the country’s 12 million people, fully one third – 4 million – are displaced, Mr. de Mul said, adding that military actions by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the Government’s response were causing more people to flee their homes.

While the reaction to this crisis had generally been “too little too late,” the Government was currently working to address the situation, he said, pointing out that this response should prompt greater donor support. “If the Government is seen to become more active and be more engaged, then the international community will respond positively to that, and also hopefully increase its cooperation.”

“The Angolan Government had indicated that it was prepared to try to do more,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator. “We hope that the international community will also follow.”

Mr. de Mul emphasized that peace would be critical to stemming the country’s humanitarian crisis. “I’m hopeful that the political process, which seems to have found a window of opportunity, will continue and bring results that are long overdue,” he said. “If that’s the case of course then the situation would dramatically improve.”