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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Angola told to fix roads
A damaged bridge in Angola
War has devastated the country's infrastucture

Aid officials in northern Angola have warned of a new humanitarian emergency in a region where thousands of people have no access to medical care.

Bad roads are already hindering access to people in need and once the rainy season begins in September, 80% of the population could find themselves completely cut off.

The province of Uige in northern Angola is home to more than half a million people.

Soil erosion has destroyed road surfaces during years of neglect and buried land mines pose a further danger.

At the moment aid vehicles are battling to get through but this will be impossible in most places once the rain begins.

Health concern

Medical assistance is currently the most pressing need in the province, most of which was under the control of the Unita rebels for many years.

Sleeping sickness and leprosy are endemic.

Aid workers have identified one community of nearly 50,000 people with no access to medical facilities.

A measles epidemic there has been causing the death of six children every week.

Because of the war a whole generation of children has missed out on vaccination.

The head of the UN humanitarian operation in the province, Maria Flynn, said that in addition to medicine and emergency rations, there was an urgent need to distribute seeds and farming tools so people could take advantage of the coming rains and start to become self-sufficient in food once again.

She called on the government to press ahead with repairs to the road to enable help to get through.

Jonas Savimbi, killed after 26 years of civil war

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