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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 19:23 GMT
Humanitarian crisis looms over Angola
Angola's displaced citizens
Over 300,000 live in the bush without any assistance
By the BBC's Justin Pearce in Luanda

The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian crisis in central Angola, where every month thousands more people are being driven from their homes and fields, and seeking emergency assistance in the towns.

Throughout last year, the humanitarian situation in central Angola was critical, as thousands of people left war zones.

Displaced children in Angola
Famine threatens the lives of the displaced

They made their way to the few isolated aid centres where humanitarian agencies were able to provide emergency food, shelter and medical help.

Now the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Angola is talking about a crisis in the central province of Biť.

Food aid

In the first two weeks of January alone, nearly 10,000 newly displaced people were registered by humanitarian workers in the town of Camacupa.

This makes a total of a 180,000 people who are now dependent on emergency food aid in the province.

But the report warns that things could get worse. Government sources suggest that over 300,000 people live in the bush or in small villages without access to assistance.

The UN expects thousands to arrive in the towns in the coming months.

The report says relief agencies are already operating at full capacity in the area and do not have the resources to respond to a new influx of people.

Consequence of war

Even in the three towns where the aid agencies are able to work - Kuito, Camacupa and Cunhinga - an estimated 21,500 displaced people remain unregistered and without assistance, the report says.

The displaced in Bie
Jul. 2001: 64,645 persons arrived in Bie
Oct. 2001: 16,000 new arrivals in Kuito and Camacupa
Nov. 2001: 10,500 new arrivals in Kuito and Camacupa
Dec. 2001: 5,779 new arrivals in Kuito
Dec. 2001: 7,229 new arrivals in Camacupa
Dec. 2001: 4,479 new arrivals in Cunhinga
Jan. 2001: 11,740 new arrivals in Bie Province
Central Angola is a fertile agricultural area - hunger there is purely the consequence of the war between the Angolan Government and the Unita rebels.

Some of the people arriving in the towns are fleeing rebel attacks.

But in private, humanitarian officials have expressed concern about an apparent strategy by the armed forces to clear people out of the countryside in order to undermine the rebels' support networks.

See also:

25 Jan 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Angola
25 Aug 99 | Africa
UN's dire prediction for Angola
23 Nov 01 | Africa
Zambian troops kill 10 Angolans
11 Nov 01 | Africa
Angolan troops abduct villagers
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