Angola is set to benefit from a €8 million (US $9.8 million) European Commission (EC) aid package aimed at assisting the return and resettlement of people uprooted by the civil war.
The EC aid package will be administered by the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), under Commissioner Poul Nielsen.
"The signing of a peace deal in Angola in 2002 prompted us to transform our programme from emergency aid to facilitating return and rehabilitation. By supporting a proper transition from humanitarian to longer-term assistance, we not only ensure a more efficient use of resources, but we also contribute to the strengthening of a recovery process that remains fragile," Nielsen said in a statement.
After 27 years of civil conflict, the April 2002 ceasefire in Angola "shaped the development for lasting peace," the EC said.
"However, the situation on the ground remains unchanged. More than 3.8 million war-affected people have resettled or returned to their area of origin since the ceasefire. Up to 70 percent of these people have returned without any form of assistance from their local authorities or humanitarian organisations, to areas not considered suitable for resettlement," the EC noted.
Access to these people was being "hampered by land mines (there are an estimated six to seven million unexploded mines in Angola), broken bridges and poor road conditions".
"Reduced access to food in former conflict areas has created widespread food insecurity and acute malnutrition in places ... during 2003 the majority of returnees remained dependent on assistance [and] 2.7 million Angolans remain without secure food supplies, despite the successful 2003 harvest. Children are particularly affected by the conflict and will be the major beneficiaries of ECHO-financed interventions," the EC said.
ECHO's efforts will focus on establishing minimum resettlement conditions in the returnee areas and provide the basis for more durable solutions.
"Activities will include provision of nutritional support, preventive and curative primary health care, emergency water and sanitation activities, provision of agricultural inputs, including seeds and livestock for breeding, de-mining activities to secure access, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, protection of returnees, including tracing and reunification, emergency education and logistical support to repatriating refugees and returnees," the EC explained.
One million people are expected to benefit over the next 15 months, the commission noted.