Angola (June 1996)
by Humanitarian Practice Network June 1996

While 1995 finished with heightened tensions in Angola, especially in the northern area around one of the main oil hubs, Soyo, 1996 began with a joint Government-UNITA announcement that a new timetable for the Lusaka Protocol had been agreed. By July of this year, prisoners of war should be liberated and UNITA soldiers quartered. A fourth encounter between President Eduardo dos Santos and the leader of UNITA, Jonas Malheiro Savimbi, took place on 1 March in Libreville.

Several positive developments took place during the first quarter of the year: first, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the Angola Verification Mission on 8 February for a further three months, at a cost of about US$1million per day. On 8 May, UNAVEM III was extended for a further two months, until 11 July, one month less than the previous mandate, in a bid to increase pressure on UNITA to comply with the Lusaka protocol; second, the international community has shown significant interest in Angola. Several important delegations, including the US Ambassador to the UN, the USAID Administrator, the Portuguese President, the French Secretary for State Cooperation, and an EU Commissioner visited Angola to reinforce the peace process; third, in a dash to meet the 8 May deadline for the quartering of some 30,000 of its troops, UNITA moved thousands into official UN quartering areas – in particular to Londuimbali, Negage, Quibaxe, and Vila Nova. Concerns have since been expressed as to the young age and level of weaponry of the quartered soldiers; fourth, WFP continued the gradual rehabilitation of roads and bridges, in conjunction with SwedRelief. This work has been enhanced in conjunction with mine awareness, survey, clearing and training. WFP now relies on road transport for about 60% of its total deliveries, up from 25% of the total in 1994; fifth, humanitarian organisations continue to expand their programmes throughout the country and the emphasis is moving from relief to recovery. The donor response to a recently launched DHA appeal has been encouraging, although donors have yet to disburse most of the commitments pledged last September for the National Rehabilitation Programme. One particularly positive indicator is UNICEF’s continued promotion of joint Government-UNITA health assessments and programmes throughout key areas of Angola. 

Despite these positive indicators, concerns still prevail that Angola’s leaders have yet to find the road to lasting peace. Savimbi broadcast a speech in mid-March in which he stated that demobilisation of his army would result in loss of power and that this was unacceptable. Further, while UNITA has accepted the offer of one of the three vice-presidencies, Savimbi has not said that he will take the post. Tensions within the Government have grown; concerns of an impending military coup d’état to overthrow the Government abound in the capital, Luanda, and on 25 April, its delegation in the Joint Commission, established under the Lusaka Protocol to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement, withdrew without citing any reason. However, more optimistically, on 21 May, the Government and UNITA completed negotiations on the important issue of integration of UNITA military into the Angolan national army. It remains to be seen how many this will involve and what will happen to those not selected (there is some speculation that the Government wishes to place them in a new Fourth Branch to help with the reconstruction of the country), this is a positive step in the reconciliation process. Striking a more negative note, however, are concerns over the government attitude to the establishment of an impartial news source. This represents an extremely important factor in the Angolan peace process, yet the government continues to prevent the UN from establishing its own radio station (as was done in Cambodia) agreed as part of the Lusaka Protocol. Hence Angolans continue to rely on UNITA’s Vorgan radio or the Government’s own radio nacional. The Government’s offer limited the UN to 2-4 hours of broadcasting time, on Government radio. The UN has not accepted the offer. Third, both parties continue to import arms on a large scale. The US National Security Council believes that UNITA’s revenues from diamond mining in 1995 exceeded US$350 million, more than it ever received in one year from South Africa or the US combined. Lastly, freedom of movement for Angolans has yet to be allowed or respected by either side. One million internally displaced people and 300,000 Angolans in neighbouring countries continue to delay their return as they cannot move freely nor do not believe it to be safe. A tragic indicator of the continuing insecurity and banditry were the deaths of one British aid worker, Chris Seward and two UN peacekeepers at the beginning of April.

At the beginning of the year, emergency assistance was still being provided to 1.4 million internally displaced people, although it is anticipated that the number of beneficiaries would decrease to one million by May.

Between 27-29 March this year, 100 people from Africa, Europe and North America met in Bonn, Germany to discuss Angola’s progress since the signing of the Lusaka Protocol in November 1994. While representation at the conference of political parties, NGOs, the business community, journalists and academics was very good, the Angolan government was conspicuous by its absence, despite being invited.

For a more information on the conference and its findings, contact:
Teresa Sande/Johanna Götz
Medico
Germany
Tel: +49 69 94438-0
Fax: +49 69 436002

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