Western diplomats in the Angolan capital, Luanda, said on Thursday that they were growing increasingly concerned for a group of 13 members of the UN Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) in territory held by UNITA rebels for the past month.
The MONUA men are predominantly Indian nationals. Two are based in the town of Bailundo, and 11 in the town of Andulo, both within 100 km north of the city of Kuito in central Angola. The diplomats said they were concerned for safety because they had received reports that government forces were preparing “an imminent attack” on Andulo.
The announcement coincides with a draft resolution presented to the UN Security Council earlier on Thursday in which the troika of observer countries in Angola - Russia, the United States and Portugal - said, “the international community will hold UNITA responsible for their safety and security”.
MONUA officials in Angola, have said, however, that their team members had not been detained or held hostage, but that their departure had been delayed because of poor weather conditions.
The UN Special Representative in Angola, Issa Diallo, raised the plight of the men on Wednesday in talks with the Angolan government and ambassadors of the three observer countries, a UN official told IRIN. Radio Angola quoted government spokesman General Higini Carneiro as saying after the meeting: “It is up to the Security Council to take a firm stand.”
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