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UN observer mission should stay

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The UN Security Council was told on Thursday that it would be advisable to renew the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) because of the “significant” increase in tension, the growing number of people being displaced by fighting and an increase in mine-laying.

In a draft resolution, a copy of which was sent to IRIN in Johannesburg, the three observer states of the Angolan peace process, the United States, Russia and Portugal, backed a similar recommendation by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week.

The draft, expected to be adopted later in the day, also appealed to the government and UNITA rebels to guarantee the freedom of movement and “urges the international community provide financial and other resources” for continued emergency relief in Angola.

More internally displaced people

As the resolution was considered in New York, the latest report by the Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit (UCAH) in the Angolan capital, Luanda said on Thursday that the number of people internally displaced since January had risen to over 350,000 confirmed cases while the number of reported cases was estimated at over half a million.

Recent fighting, especially in central Angola had all but forced humanitarian aid down to a trickle, the UCAH report said. It said food deliveries to displaced people in the tense Huila province had been further curtailed by an attack on 26 November on a WFP food convoy in which two vehicle operators were killed.

“As a result of this attack, displaced people numbering over 15,000 who had not received assistance since August, will have to wait further for delivery of emergency assistance,” the report said. “Despite the reopening of the Benguela-Huambo highway to some commercial traffic, continuing insecurity is closing down several main roads around the country. This is causing emergency stocks in areas traditionally supplied by road to run extremely low.”

In the provinces of Huambo, Uige and Malange, it cited a significant increase in political and military tension during the past week. Troop movements in the provinces had prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid and had also made humanitarian assessment missions impossible. It was also concerned that large numbers of those displaced were children, especially in Moxico province, and the central highlands.

Concern over new mine laying

In commemoration of the signing a year ago of the Ottawa Treaty on the eradication of landmines, the Angolan NGO, Comite Angolano para o Banimento das Minas, had started a new campaign against mines with ICRC and UNICEF. Although 16,000 mines had been removed in Angola with international community assistance, experts said this week they estimated that there were still five to seven million mines still concealed across Angola.
“There are numerous reports,” UCAH said, “indicating that new mines continue to be laid.”

UN representative meets foreign minister

Meanwhile, in continued efforts at dialogue, UN Special Representative Issa Diallo met Angola’s foreign minister, Venancio de Moura, on Tuesday. In his first meeting with Diallo, Radio Nacional de Angola, quoted De Moura as saying the UN-brokered Lusaka Protocol providing the basis for a peace plan had been deadlocked since June. The government, he said, was no longer on talking terms with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi and his camp and would instead pursue dialogue only with those “genuinely interested” in peace, including groups which had split from UNITA.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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