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‘Unique’ chance for UN, Angola to address country’s needs, Security Council told

‘Unique’ chance for UN, Angola to address country’s needs, Security Council told

Kenzo Oshima
As the ceasefire in Angola continues to hold and peace seems to be “irreversible,” the United Nations and the country’s Government have a unique opportunity to create a new partnership to address serious humanitarian needs as well as reconstruction and development issues, the UN’s top relief official told the Security Council today.

Just back from the country, Kenzo Oshima, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, described the “dire” humanitarian situation in many parts of Angola. “The enormous needs of large parts of the population – food, water, shelter, health – require an urgent an massive response,” he said at the outset of the discussion, which saw the participation of over a dozen countries. “Despite the overall positive developments, the people most affected by the war have yet to see a significant ‘peace dividend.’”

The UN and its partners were targeting altogether about 3 million people – almost one quarter of Angola’s population – for aid, Mr. Oshima said, pointing out that funding was urgently needed for humanitarian relief operations in the country. Of the $233 million requested, only $81 million, or 35 per cent, had been granted.

On the challenges ahead, Mr. Oshima stressed the need to plan for the return and resettlement of up to 4 million displaced persons, conduct de-mining activities and provide emergency assistance to former members of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and their family members in the so-called quartering areas.

“The Government has made return and resettlement a major priority,” Mr. Oshima said. “Helping displaced people to return home and re-establish a productive life will be critically important in the consolidation of peace.”

Meanwhile, the Angolan Government could take some steps of its own to facilitate humanitarian activities, including repairing the country’s infrastructure, expediting customs clearance for humanitarian goods, and simplifying visa requirements for foreign relief workers, Mr. Oshima said.