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Team completes assessment of UN's future role in Angola

Team completes assessment of UN's future role in Angola

Senior United Nations officials have completed a multi-agency assessment mission to Angola in an effort to clarify the UN's future role in the country.

Speaking to reporters prior to leaving the capital, Luanda, the UN's Special Adviser on Africa, Ibrahim Gambari, said that he will soon brief Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Secretariat as to how the UN can best organize itself in Angola and advise the Security Council on the mandate necessary to best assist the country to consolidate peace, promote national reconciliation and reconstruction.

Meanwhile yesterday, a senior UN relief official who participated in the mission said that the purpose of the visit was also to see what the UN could do to reinforce humanitarian action in Angola.

Ross Mountain, the UN's Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a press briefing in Geneva that the UN has been dealing with key aspects of relief assistance for the nearly 1.9 million people.

"But we are wanting to focus on the quartering areas where the UNITA troops have been regrouped," he added, referring to the some 80,000 former rebel fighters of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola and about 230,000 of their dependents who have been gathered in 34 centres around the country.

Aside from those disarmed combatants, another area of focus for the UN was internally displaced people, many of whom were seeking to return to their homes now that peace has settled in Angola, Mr. Mountain said.

"The bad news is that there are people who really are in very dire straits, suffering from severe malnutrition, particularly in the quartering areas," Mr. Mountain said. "The good news is that we can now see an end to the need for supplying humanitarian assistance in one of the longest running conflicts in Africa."

The Secretary-General is expected to submit his report on Angola - with recommendations regarding the future mandate of the UN Office in Angola (UNOA) - during the first week of July.