January 16, 2003

300,000 threatened with starvation

At least 1.8 million people are currently in need of food aid, while another 300.000 might face starvation in the coming months in Angola. The information was released by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Aid to which although the humanitarian situation in the country is becoming stable, some social partners are worried about the number of people in need of food aid reaching 1.8 million. According to the source, credible reports show that almost 200.000 vulnerable people could be leaving in "extreme misery" in inaccessible areas.

In Angola there are at least 15 areas with high rates of severe malnutrition. The areas have not been mentioned. Morbidity and death rates continue to be of emergency and serious in many areas, with million children becoming more and more vulnerable to such diseases as measles. Most of the social infrastructures such as medical and education centres and water systems in areas affected by the war have not been repaired as yet and access to them is becoming more difficult due to the rains. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is considering to drop food parachutes in the zones inaccessible by road.

The European Commission reported on Friday, January 10, that it has donated 1.1 million euros (US $ 1.16 million) for 60,000 Angolan refugees living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The money, to be administered by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is for a protection, care and maintenance programme for the refugees.

Meanwhile, it was reported that about 2,582 former Unita's soldiers were taken to their areas of origin since December 2002. According to the provincial director of the Social Welfare Ministry (Minars), the process continues on today with the evacuation of 120 people to neighbouring southern Kuando-Kubango province. The official said that Minars expects to finish this process in mid-February, in order to enable the children's enrollment in the education system. He deplored the bad conditions of the roads, which force the vehicles to spend many days on the roads, during the trip, above all in the areas with tertiary roads, where the rains turn the traffic difficult.

Despite of the ending of the fighting in April 2002, people still die in mine accidents. Hundred and Forty Five mine accidents were recorded in Angola during 2002, causing 241 victims, being 33 in Benguela province, the area with higher cases registered. Apart from Benguela, the provinces where more cases of accidents were registered were Moxico, with 24, Huambo, with 23, Malanje (17), BiÚ (13), and Kwanza Norte (11).

According to the National Institute of Removal of Obstacles and Explosive Devices (INAROEE), until November 2002, 42 deaths and 124 injured were registered, the number was likely to grow when the partners of the institution provide the final report that probably will be concluded at the end of the current month.

The victims suffered injures like amputation of upper and lower limbs as well as visual and hearing problems. Most of the accidents occured during trips, in the fields, while fetching wood, water or when hunting. The devices more detonated were anti-personal landmines, anti-tank ones and others. In 2001, Angola registered 339 accidents with landmines, causing 660 victims among deaths and injureds. (Angola Press Agency, Luanda / IRIN)

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