ISSUE 4 September 1995

Humanitarian Exchange Magazine

Angola (September 1995)

by Humanitarian Practice Network

Since the signing of the peace accord on 6 May, the country has, despite still high levels of violence perpetrated by unaffiliated groups, remained calm.

With the partitioning of Government and UNITA troops and an apparent commitment on both sides to furthering the peace process, overall security has improved, relief aid routes in previously inaccessible areas are being opened up and there are hopes that assistance can be properly targeted.

In anticipation of the voluntary repatriation of nearly 300,000 Angolans from neighbouring Zambia and Zaire, food has been pre-positioned in the northern border areas in readiness. However, there are fears that the only marginal improvements in harvest this year, over previous years, will leave approximately 1.4m people dependent on food aid over the coming year, and that a total of 2.2m will require some form of food - or non-food aid support during 1995/96.

A hopeful note for continuing peace was struck in June, with the offer made by President Dos Santos and the MPLA, of a Vice-Presidency to Jonas Savimbi, an almost unthinkable development only three months earlier when armies were still being rearmed and resupplied.

The plan is for a ‘South Africa’ model of two Vice Presidents, one MPLA and one UNITA, but the offer to Savimbi is clearly conditional on progress on demobilisation. Despite this initial optimism, the UN Security Council is concerned at the slow implementation of the Lusaka Protocol, in particular delays in demobilising and reintegrating the estimated 140,000 armed forces on both sides.

The Protocol provides for UNITA to be demobilised and integrated into the Forças Armadas Angolanas (FAA), but there are already signs that the MPLA is having difficulty in controlling its own army, let alone one nearly half as big again.

The question also remains as to where the ex-soldiers go once demobilised. Of the UN, government and aid agencies’ programme to reintegrate and re-employ ex-soldiers, only US$150,000 of the US$55.8m needed for the demobilisation had been raised by the beginning of August.

In a situation where there is considerable scepticism about power-sharing agreements per se, the military question threatens to destabilise things further.

On 7 August, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution extending the mandate of UNAVEM III (UN Angola Verification Mission) until February 1996, accelerating the deployment of UNAVEM infantry units and authorising the Secretary-General to increase the strength of UNAVEM’s human rights unit as appropriate. The UN is reluctant to move to preparations for elections in the current climate until there are clear signs that reintegration of the armies is well under way.

Worryingly however, the increasing lawlessness of rogue, unaffiliated groups in the country and growing insecurity may overtake difficulties in reconciling the MPLA and UNITA, a situation which will be aggravated if reintegration of the armed forces and reinsertion of ex-soldiers into some form of employment is not successfully implemented.

From the perspective of the humanitarian agencies working to reach those in need of aid, insecurity threatens their ability to reach their targets, for example around Luena in Moxico province, and discourages displaced persons from returning to their homes.

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