BRIEFED ON SITUATION IN ANGOLA, COUNCIL MEMBERS CALL FOR TIGHTER SANCTIONS AGAINST UNION FOR THE TOTAL LIBERATION OF ANGOLA (UNITA)
Plight of 4 Million Internally Displaced,
NEW YORK, 13 February (UN Headquarters) -- While world attention had been focused on the situation in Afghanistan, other emergencies, such as the protracted one in Angola, were badly in need of attention, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, told the Security Council today during a briefing on Angola. Mr. Oshima’s briefing was accompanied by a visual presentation.
"Remember Angola", Mr. Oshima urged Member States of the United Nations. The ruinous civil war had displaced nearly one third of the population and conditions were "truly shocking". Life expectancy was 44 years, and some 30 per cent of all children died before reaching the age of five. An estimated 100,000 children had been separated from their families, and evidence showed that child soldiers were once again being forced to fight. Also, new cases of polio had been confirmed in the east.
Georges Chikoti, Vice-Minister for External Relations of Angola, said that the more than 4 million displaced persons countrywide placed the humanitarian situation at the centre of Angola’s concerns. The Government continued to lead and implement humanitarian support operations, in close coordination with the United Nations. Only by means of a coordinated, continued and effective approach to the humanitarian situation, however, would the challenges be overcome.
Faced with the intransigence of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the Government had had no other alternative but to implement its peace agenda, he said. Despite the difficulties, it had maintained intact the pillars of its emerging democracy, assuring its citizens the exercise of their rights while at the same time allowing national dialogue without any exclusion. A climate of relative confidence was emerging, leading to the return to normal life of many people, including soldiers of the rebel group.
Portugal’s representative, speaking on behalf of the observer States to the Lusaka Protocol -- Portugal, Russian Federation and the United States -- said that without peace and stability there would be no durable solution to the dire humanitarian situation. "We need to be creative and constructive in finding adequate and appropriate solutions that address the suffering of millions of Angolans, in particular those living in the most remote areas", he urged. That must be done in a way that combined efficiency and respect for the basic political principles of the peace process. Only good governance, respect for human and civil rights, and the delivery of better social and economic conditions could help end the conflict.
Calling the humanitarian situation "truly bleak and depressing", the representative of Ireland said he had hoped that things would have improved by now, but that was impossible without first addressing the violence underlying the emergency. Echoing despair over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, several other speakers called for a strengthened sanctions regime against UNITA that cast a wider net over broader swaths of territory. Efforts by the Government to improve delivery of humanitarian aid and sustain the fledgling democratic institutions were commendable, but paled against the tactics being employed by the rebel force. The enormous humanitarian deficit could not be bridged without the help of the international community, which was shouldering some responsibility but could be encouraged to do more, some speakers said.
Both Mr. Oshima and Mr. Chikoti took the floor a second time to respond to members' questions and comments. Erik de Mul, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Angola, also answered questions.
Council President Adolfo Aguilar Zinser (Mexico) spoke in his national capacity. Statements were also made by the representatives of Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Norway, Colombia, France, Mauritius, Singapore, China, Syria, Guinea and Cameroon.
The meeting began at 11:09 a.m. and ended at 1:50 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing on Angola by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kenzo Oshima. The Council last met on the situation in Angola on 21 December 2001, when it was noted that there had not been a briefing on the humanitarian situation in that country for more than a year. That year-end meeting called for more proactive United Nations involvement in the country.
Much of the Council's recent work on Angola had focused on the sanctions regime imposed on the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), in light of its continued armed activity. The Angolan Government and UNITA have been engaged in an intermittent, devastating civil war since the country’s independence in 1975. In January 1999, the Secretary-General concluded that the Angolan peace process had once again collapsed, after UNITA refused to proceed with the implementation of the 1994 peace agreement, known as the Lusaka Protocol.
In consequence, the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Angola (MONUA) ended in early 1999. The following October, the Security Council authorized the establishment of the United Nations Office in Angola to explore effective measures for restoring peace and to assist the Angolan people in the areas of capacity- building, humanitarian assistance, the promotion of human rights and the coordination of other activities.
A monitoring mechanism on sanctions against UNITA was established in 2000 and a report, following a six-month investigation, was issued on 21 December (document S/2000/1225, annex). It concluded that the rebel movement was still conducting guerrilla warfare, attacking mostly civilian targets, destroying infrastructure, killing innocent people and laying landmines. An addendum issued in 2001 noted that, despite a lessening of the attitude of impunity, the intention of sanctions-busters to continue to derive profit from Angola's cruel war remained firmly intact.
KENZO OSHIMA, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that, while the world had been focused on the situation in Afghanistan, other emergencies, such as the protracted one in Angola, were badly in need of attention. Following his mission to Angola last December, Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Africa, had briefed the Council and touched upon the disheartening humanitarian conditions in the country. Sadly, not much had changed since then.
The humanitarian conditions in Angola had remained among the worst in the world, he said. The statistics for the country were "truly shocking": Angola ranked 146th in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) human development index out of 162 countries; life expectancy was 44 years, and 63 per cent of all households lived below the poverty line; 30 per cent of all children died before reaching the age of five, and an estimated 100,000 children had been separated from their families. Child soldiers were once again being forced to fight in the ruinous civil war. Also, new cases of polio had been confirmed in eastern Angola.
The Angolan war had created one of the largest displaced populations in the world, he continued. Since 1999, the total number of displaced has doubled from 2 million to over 4 million. That meant that almost one third of the country’s entire 12 million population was displaced. The UNITA, despite being weakened by the Council’s sanctions, continued to destabilize large parts of the countryside and disrupt normal economic and social activities in most areas. During the past two years, UNITA had shifted to guerrilla warfare, with random attacks on civilians and key infrastructure. Mr. Oshima drew the Council’s attention to on-screen maps showing the areas where displaced populations were concentrated. [The rest of his briefing was accompanied by a slide presentation, and information kits containing maps and a fact sheet were distributed.]
In a worrying trend, there had been an increase in the number of security incidents affecting humanitarian personnel and assets over the past six months, he said. Almost all humanitarian agencies in the country were working at full capacity. In some locations, they were overwhelmed by the people’s needs, with neither the means nor the personnel to meet them, despite the fact that the humanitarian operation in Angola was one of the largest in the world, including more than 400 national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Nevertheless, only a fraction of the overall needs was being met, he said. Humanitarian coverage had been limited by insecurity, mine infestation, poor infrastructure, lack of capacity and lack of funding. It was heartening that the Angolan Government had taken several positive steps in recent years to increase its involvement in the provision of humanitarian assistance. For example, it had allocated more than $50 million to the national emergency programme and created a Fund for Peace and Reconciliation. It was also incorporating the United Nations-developed principles on internal displacement into its national legal framework.
A major constraint to delivering humanitarian aid was the appalling state of the infrastructure, he went on. Four of the airstrips used by humanitarian agencies were currently under repair, and damaged bridges severely limited the use of surface routes. The combination of widespread insecurity and damaged infrastructure had forced the World Food Programme (WFP), which managed the logistics network, to deliver up to 60 per cent of all humanitarian assistance by air. That was one of the reasons the humanitarian operation in Angola was among the Organizations’s most expensive, after Afghanistan.
He urged the Angolan Government to undertake a number of steps, in addition to urgently needed repair of infrastructure and airstrips. Those steps included action to secure surface routes, thus lowering the cost of the humanitarian operation; establish days of tranquillity in order to allow access for polio and other immunizations and the delivery of much-needed assistance; implement partnership targets in the appeal; and increase government funding for humanitarian programmes.
Most importantly, he continued, both parties to the conflict must desist from using military strategies that directly affected civilians and ensure that humanitarian agencies had unhindered and continuous access to all affected populations. In the coming weeks, he would dispatch his Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ross Mountain, to Angola, to prepare the way for his own visit in the spring, when he would take up priority issues with the Government, including implementation of the agreed goals and strategies to which it committed itself in 2001. He urged Member States to "remember Angola" and give generously and immediately to the 2002 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal.
GEORGES CHIKOTI, Vice-Minister for External Relations of Angola, underlined his Government’s appreciation for the efforts of the Security Council in seeking a solution to the situation in his country, in which the humanitarian situation had worsened in 2001. In order for peace to be achieved, there must be a unilateral and unconditional cessation of hostilities on the part of Jonas Savimbi’s troops, and all their weapons must be turned over to the United Nations. Another indispensable condition for peace was UNITA’s resolution of its own internal problems and its full implementation of the Lusaka Protocol. Fully participatory general elections must also be held.
The Government’s plan for peace called upon UNITA to respond positively so that "we can put an end to this atrocious war, and conclude the pending tasks of the Lusaka Protocol", he said. Instead, UNITA had responded by increasing terrorist acts.
The Vice-Minister then showed the Council a film on the effects of UNITA’s actions on the people of Angola and the Government’s efforts to reverse the situation. Following the film, the Vice-Minister said that, faced with the intransigence of UNITA and its non-response to appeals for a resolution to the conflict by means of dialogue, his Government had no other alternative but to implement its peace agenda. Despite the difficulties it faced, the Government maintained intact the pillars of its emerging democracy, assuring its citizens the exercise of their rights while, at the same time, allowing national dialogue without any exclusion. In the economic sphere, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) monitored reform programme was under way. Measures had also been taken to counter UNITA’s terrorist activities and to guarantee effective control of national territory.
He said a climate of relative confidence was emerging in Angola, which had encouraged the return to normal life of many people, including soldiers of the rebel group. Their return, however, had overwhelmed an already saturated public assistance infrastructure, raising by more than 500,000 the number of those in need of emergency aid. There were now more than 4 million displaced persons in his country.
That fact, he said, placed the humanitarian situation at the centre of Angola’s concerns. His Government had, therefore, adopted a specific law that provided rules for the resettlement of displaced persons. Further, the Government continued to lead and implement humanitarian support operations in close coordination with the United Nations. Appropriate structures had been created at both the national and provincial levels.
He then called the Council’s attention to the major constraints the Government and its partners faced in addressing the humanitarian situation: lack of food and basic needs; damaged roads and bridges; the poor condition of airstrips; the almost total halt in mine-clearance programmes; and shortfalls in international donations. In view of those problems, the Government had recently held a ministerial-level meeting to address the problems, adopting a range of measures.
His Government believed that the effort it had made should continue to be supported by its international partners. He, therefore, reiterated an appeal to donors to respond more significantly, given the growing needs and numbers of internally displaced persons in Angola. Only by means of a coordinated, continued and effective approach to the humanitarian situation, with the full participation of the Government, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the targeted population, would the challenges be overcome.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said he agreed with the Vice-Minister that the humanitarian situation in Angola was the centre of concern. The facts outlined by the Under-Secretary-General were truly "bleak and depressing". That was all the more so because measurable improvement in the crisis had been expected in 2001. Instead, it had deteriorated. That had taken place against a backdrop of the Government establishing control over wider territory and of increasingly effective application of Council sanctions against UNITA. Despite the difficulties being faced, every effort must be made to ensure effective and sustained access for those seeking to alleviate the suffering of the Angolan people.
There was an enormous humanitarian deficit in Angola which could not be bridged without the assistance of the international community, he said. In that regard, the donor community was not avoiding its responsibilities. It could, however, be encouraged to do more. There was almost a major opportunity and responsibility for the Government to play its own central role. The donor community could reasonably be expected to further support humanitarian action if it saw the systematic diversion of greatly increasing State revenues from natural resources into programmes to rebuild Angola.
The ending of the conflict in Angola would not, in itself, bring about the end of the immense economic and social obstacles facing the country, he said. However, increased confidence on the part of the Angolan people that the arrival of peace held out the promise of greater economic and social progress would surely contribute to the creation and endurance of stability.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said he was deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis, which had been going on for 27 years. Despite some recent progress, the situation had not only remained extremely grave for a large portion of the population, but had considerably worsened. A major challenge was the enormous number of displaced persons and refugees. Clearly, the Government had the primary responsibility for their resettlement, and he urged it to pursue its initiatives. His country wished to participate in efforts to help Angolans in temporary sites.
He urged better access for humanitarian aid workers to the most distressed persons, especially in rural areas throughout the country. The serious deterioration of those situations was alarming. The Government must ensure access to all parts of the country and guarantee minimum security to aid workers. He was pleased by the global Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal to support economic recovery efforts. It also must be understood that the democratization of Angola was a fundamental starting point. The Government should set up a mechanism to bring the people into a political dialogue process. The peace process was clearly at the heart of the matter; today’s meeting should give that process new momentum.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the humanitarian problems in Angola were among the worst in the world. The situation required the concentrated attention of both the international community and the Angolan Government. Recent efforts to improve the situation were welcome, but much more must be done. The international donor community had an important role to play, and it was, therefore, right for the Council to inject a note of urgency into the debate.
A coordinated approach by all partners was needed to alleviate the suffering of the Angolan people, he said. This approach must lead to positive action. The international donor community must respond better to the 2001 consolidated Appeal. Energetic efforts to end the civil war must also be supported. He asked for OCHA’s assessment of the extent to which Angola contributed to the humanitarian relief effort, and whether those inputs had changed over the last six to 12 months.
The UNITA clearly had minimal concern for the humanitarian effect of its operations, he said. Today’s debate was a good occasion to consider the practical steps that must be taken to address the situation throughout the country.
WEGGER CHRISTIAN STRØMMEN (Norway) encouraged the Angolan Government to continue its positive efforts. It was now essential that it elaborate on and agree to a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of priority actions set out by the Government. Those included preparing for access to places with internally displaced populations by opening roads and airstrips; improving and increasing humanitarian assistance in areas not accessible to international humanitarian partners; establishing reception and registration centres in areas with large influxes of internally displaced persons; and improving health assistance and the supply of essential medicines, personnel and drug kits.
He said Norway stood ready to respond quickly to help meet the great humanitarian needs in Angola, and he urged the rest of the international community to do the same. The humanitarian emergencies in Angola had reached an unacceptable level.
There could be no military solution to the conflict, he said. Everyone concerned must realize this and act accordingly. In that regard, it was important to point out that the main responsibility for ending the human suffering in the country rested with UNITA and Jonas Savimbi.
FABIO OCAZIONES (Colombia) said the humanitarian dimensions of the Angolan situation were enormous, and yet that state of affairs was receiving less attention. The description of that situation, as provided today, was disturbing. Four million persons had been displaced by war, and more than 1 million were eking out a living on rations provided by humanitarian agencies. Children were dying daily, with no signs of improvement on the horizon. Several United Nations agencies were already on the ground, working in concert with the Government in an attempt to meet the needs of the most distressed. Hopefully, the appeals made to donors would be heard.
He said that the Council had some tools available to it to respond to that "crushing humanitarian lot", including focusing attention on the situation and conveying a sense of urgency. United Nations initiatives designed to facilitate the emergence of a solution to the armed conflict must also be supported. Support for the sanctions regime against UNITA must continue, as that had been designed to eliminate UNITA’s long-term fighting capability. Until those took effect, many more people would die and much more time would be lost in rebuilding the nation.
In the current situation, the work of the relief agencies must be facilitated, he said. He posed two questions to Mr. Oshima: had the time now come for the Council to explore yet again the idea of a humanitarian corridor to facilitate access for humanitarian workers and improve land-based aid transportation? Also, how were the guiding principles for dealing with internally displaced persons being applied, and how useful were they?
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said the information provided by the Vice-Minister and the OCHA indicated that the humanitarian situation in Angola was extremely alarming. The cause was the conflict in the country, and the principal responsibility for it lay on the shoulders of UNITA.
The modalities of the new peace programme laid out by the Angolan Government must be specified, and he asked for more information in that regard. He also asked if OCHA could comment on the recent initiatives taken by the Angolan Government to address the humanitarian situation. There had been allegations of forced movement of population in Angola, and he wished to hear more about the consequences of that.
Broader access for the international community to people in distress was essential, he said. Aid could be made more secure by protection forces and access to zones of insecurity. The establishment of humanitarian corridors in areas under the control of UNITA should be envisaged.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) expressed grave concern at the worsening humanitarian situation which had been further aggravated by the atrocities committed by those who continued to reject peace and reconciliation. Today’s film presentation had shown the extent of the violence and the suffering of innocent civilians. The responsibility lay with Jonas Savimbi and his militant group. Their activities should be viewed within the context of the film.
He said that every effort should be deployed to spare Angolans further suffering and prevent UNITA from carrying out any attacks, by tightening still further the sanctions against UNITA. The statistics were alarming and, with reports of recent fighting, the number of displaced persons had continued to grow. Most of them were living in camps, which was leading to a multitude of problems, including food insecurity and malnutrition. That, in turn, was a significant underlying factor in the deaths of thousands of Angolan women and children.
The Government’s resettlement plans and the freeing up of additional funds to tackle the increasing influx of internally displaced persons to urban areas were commendable, he said. He was also pleased that it was incorporating the United Nations principles for dealing with internally displaced populations into its national legal framework. Local NGOs and churches should continue to assist the needy. Also of great value had been the contribution of United Nations agencies and other organizations striving to eliminate those dire conditions.
He called on the international community to render the necessary financial support. The appeal had experienced a significant setback, with less than half the amount that had been expected. Meanwhile, those hindering access to humanitarian aid workers should be held responsible for their actions. He asked Mr. Oshima what the Council could do to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) supported the statements already made on the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Angola. She noted that the Angolan Government’s current military campaign appeared to have had the consequence of increasing the number of internally displaced persons. Was there any information on how the Government was tackling that problem? she asked. Had overtures been made to UNITA to facilitate the work of humanitarian agencies, and what had been the response?
CHEN XU (China) said the humanitarian situation in Angola was, indeed, a source of great concern. The international community was carrying out relief activities, as was the Angolan Government, and he hoped those efforts would bear fruit as soon as possible and that enough funds would be received.
The humanitarian situation was linked to the security situation and the peace process, he said. Efforts must be redoubled to address the peace process –- that was the only way to alleviate the humanitarian problems facing the country. It was regrettable and unacceptable that UNITA had continued its destabilizing activities. The international community must increase its pressure on Mr. Savimbi.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that he had been under the impression that UNITA’s ability to continue fighting had been greatly diminished, yet it was ongoing and still causing devastating effects. He was concerned about the "dark humanitarian picture", as well as the large numbers of displaced persons. It was incumbent upon UNITA to stop threatening the country’s security and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to all areas of the country. Given that the sanctions had only resulted in an escalation of rebel attacks against civilians, the Council should seriously study the ways and means of bringing further pressure to bear upon UNITA.
He said that such pressure should serve to end the attacks against Angolans and force the rebels into reconciliation, aimed at ending the conflict and restoring stability. The UNITA bore full responsibility for the current tragic situation. The lack of any real commitment to the peace process and the Lusaka Protocol was evident. A solution based on a peace plan must be derived. He welcomed the exceptional measures taken by the Government, including the disarmament of Angolans and efforts to re-establish a constitutional order.
In light of the Angolan Vice-Minister’s statement that UNITA had escalated its militant activities and stepped up its purchase of weapons, he asked how he viewed the prospect for implementing the Government’s proposed peace plan. And what practical role could the Council play? He also asked Mr. Oshima the reasons for the 22-month delay in repairing the airstrip.
FRANÇOIS LONSENY FALL (Guinea) said today’s discussion had come at the right time, given the gravity of the situation in Angola. The conflict there was among the longest standing in Africa and had caused profound suffering. Some progress had been made, but the situation remained alarming. The activities of guerrillas had worsened the crisis and resulted in thousands of internally displaced persons.
Restoring peace was key, he said. Pressure should be put on UNITA to abide by its commitments. He supported the courageous efforts of the Government to seek peace and called on the international community to help meet the needs on the ground.
He said all possible effort must be made to reach isolated persons with humanitarian aid. The conflict had gone on for too long and everything must be done to end it. He encouraged the initiatives launched by the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser to that end.
FERDINAND NGOH NGOH (Cameroon) said the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation was mainly due to the continuation of hostilities by UNITA, which had repeatedly refused to engage in the peace process and abide by the Lusaka Protocol. The sanctions regime should be strengthened and pressure should be intensified. The long war had caused untold suffering. The population had concentrated itself in urban centres. There and elsewhere in the country, the rate of malnutrition, morbidity and mortality was great among the displaced population.
The situation was even more tragic for people in inaccessible areas, he said. Meanwhile, the deadly attacks by UNITA against civilians and humanitarian personnel were unacceptable. He was pleased at the efforts by the Angolan Government to assist the population and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. For its part, the international community should substantially increase assistance to Angola. The fate of populations in inaccessible zones should be the focus of particular attention.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico), Security Council President, speaking in his national capacity, said his delegation stood ready to assist in international efforts to address the demobilization of soldiers, the resettlement of displaced persons and the electoral process. He had noted with appreciation the decisions taken recently by the Angolan Council of Ministers and hoped that they would be immediately applied.
The humanitarian situation was extremely grave, he said. He appealed to UNITA to stop its military attacks on the civilian population and to commit itself to dialogue. Secure access to the most vulnerable parts of the Angolan population should be assured by both the Government and UNITA. Peace was the only solution to the problems being faced.
He appealed for continued efforts by the Government, particularly in the area of reconstruction of national infrastructure. Increased backing should be given to all political parties and members of society. The situation of Angola could not be ignored, and the international community must not turn its back. He asked the Under-Secretary-General for information about the work done by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Angola.
FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the troika of observer States to the Lusaka Protocol -- Russian Federation, United States and Portugal -- said the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Angola might soon overwhelm the efforts of the international community and the Government. The estimated number of internally displaced persons had exceeded 4 million, and refugee numbers continued to grow in Zambia, Namibia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Of particular concern was the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the areas of Angola most difficult for relief agencies to access.
He said he had been encouraged to hear the Vice-Minister acknowledge that the Government of Angola had to do more for its own people. He welcomed recent expressions of intent by the Government to provide more resources in the areas of health, transport and food distribution, and looked forward to those important commitments quickly becoming a reality. He encouraged the Government to take a more active stance in the provision of direct assistance and to cooperate in the efforts of the international community to alleviate the suffering of those not receiving the necessary assistance.
"We need to be creative and constructive in finding adequate and appropriate solutions that address the suffering of millions of Angolans, in particular those living in the most remote areas", he said. That must be done in a way that combined efficiency and respect for the basic political principles of the peace process. Without peace and stability, there would be no durable solution to the dire humanitarian situation in Angola. Only the practice of good governance, respect for human and civil rights, and the delivery of better social and economic conditions to the Angolan people could contribute to bring the conflict to an end.
Response to Comments and Questions
Mr. OSHIMA thanked the Council for its attention, which had been "freshly drawn" today to the plight of the Angolan people and the urgent need to take action to address the situation. He was heartened by the clear and strong message to the donor community to contribute generously and quickly. Also welcome had been the call on the Government to do more; the actions it had taken had been acknowledged, especially its success in making additional resources available for humanitarian action.
He said that his planned mission and that of his deputy would be coordinated to take up priority issues with the Angolan Government. Those included the question of access to vulnerable populations, the setting up of days of tranquillity, problems of infrastructure, and the question of resettlement.
Regarding internal displacement, he said that the Guiding Principles had become the basis for the minimum standards of resettlement, which had been developed by the Government in cooperation with United Nations agencies. In October 2000, those norms had been adopted and then signed by President Dos Santos. Council members’ expressed interest in doing more for Angola was welcome.
ERIC DE MUL, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Angola, also responded to questions posed by Council members. He said that if those displaced by military intervention presented themselves at the appropriate facilities they could be helped, but it was a question of access, and some fell through the cracks. The composition of the displaced was often skewed –- many children and women, but not so many men between the age of 16 and 40. That was similar to other areas of conflict.
In answer to another question, he said the Government of Angola was doing too little too late to address the situation. He noted that the Government itself agreed with that assessment. A meeting had taken place last week where the same conclusion had been reached, and a whole series of measures had been adopted and agreed upon to address the situation.
He said he had the impression that military activity was increasing in Angola, resulting in more displaced persons. Creating corridors for humanitarian access was very difficult, but possible. The parties, particularly the Government, must accept the idea that all citizens of Angola were the responsibility of the Government. It was much easier to negotiate and discuss the issue with the Government than with UNITA, he noted. The question of access must continue to be raised.
An important decision had been taken to create a demining commission, and that was reviving the issue in the country, he said. There had, indeed, been allegations of forced movements of people, but it was always difficult to define what that meant. Whatever the reason, the consequences of displacement must be attended to, in the first instance, by the provincial and national authorities.
Many people had tried to find out what was happening with the repair of the national airport, he said. Lack of interest, capacity, and corruption might be behind the delays. There were too few programmes to address the needs of children. The UNHCR was gradually withdrawing its activities related to internally displaced persons, who were taken care of more and more by the OCHA.
In closing remarks, Mr. CHIKOTI thanked Council members for the spirit in which they had sympathized with the plight of Angolans and indicated their willingness to seek solutions. The Government was committed to achieving peace, to protecting human life and human rights, and to maintaining a democratic environment under a democratic constitution. Keeping all of that in balance had not been easy. The 1992 elections had provided an environment for peace. Twelve political parties had participated, and all of them were represented in Parliament. When the post-electoral conflict began, however, the Government had no arms or army.
He noted that the 1991 agreement had called on the two belligerents to disarm. The Government had done so; UNITA had not. From that point on, the conflict, which had been rekindled by UNITA, had affected towns and villages for the first time. The scale of destruction was also very high. The Government had not received any outside military support in rebuilding its army and maintaining its democratic institutions. It had sought to conclude the peace process under the Lusaka Protocol, but, unfortunately, that had not been the result.
Continuing, he said that the Government –- which had controlled only a few provinces in 1992 -- had extended its authority to the borders of Zambia and Namibia and, in fact, had liberated most of the country. The question of forced displacement should be clarified. Simply put, it did not exist. People were willingly surrendering to the Government. The UNITA controlled certain areas with the help of outside support, in violation of the sanctions. The Government’s current military activities were not intended to increase the number of displaced persons, but to increase its authority to enable it to help people in certain areas.
Access was indeed difficult in certain areas, he said. The Government was not saying there should be no access to certain areas, but the administration should be established in areas liberated by the military. Also, the Government needed to re-establish administration where none had existed. The second stage had to be the reconstruction of bridges in order to facilitate food delivery. The airstrips should also be rebuilt or repaired. Meanwhile, UNITA’s military capacity must be reduced, and sanctions should be maintained.
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