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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Southern Africa seeks crisis relief
Bay of Bengo, Luanda
Angola is trying to recover from decades of war
The Angolan President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, has said security and stability in southern Africa are the priorities for the Southern African Development Community, SADC.

Mr dos Santos was speaking at the opening of the organisation's annual summit in the Angolan capital, Luanda.

Angolan child
War may be over but the suffering remains

He also said the SADC had to work very hard to control the threat of Aids.

He appealed for foreign aid in the current food crisis in southern Africa where 14 million people are facing severe food shortages.

Leaders from the 14 member countries are to continue their discussions on regional issues on Thursday.

Peace efforts

"We have made regional efforts to end armed conflicts, but we still have much to do to achieve stability," Mr dos Santos told the delegations.

Earlier this year, a peace treaty between the Angolan Government and the Unita movement put an end to 25 years of civil war in the country.

Rwandan forces dismantle an anti-aircraft gun
Moves have been made towards peace in DR Congo

Peace moves in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo have also been greeted as a sign of hope for the region.

Aids and famine are high on the agenda of the delegations, which urged foreign donors to speed up food and debt relief.

Food aid

"We cannot do everything with internal resources," Mr dos Santos said.

Foreign donors have so far pledged about $180m in aid to the six most affected countries, well short of the $611m appeal by the United Nations for food and agricultural assistance.

Zambia has refused genetically modified food aid, while Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique say they will only accept milled GM food relief.

Economic woes

But while the food crisis is blamed on drought, bad government policies have made it worse in some countries, aid agencies say.

The region's economy is another concern as southern Africa achieved less than 2% economic growth last year, a long way short of the 6% target that governments are looking for.

President dos Santos said self-reliance was the key if the region was to become influential in world affairs.

"More than 80% of projects are funded by international donations, but it is of the utmost importance that we create self-financing mechanisms.

"The SADC has to be able to generate integrated development of national economies in the region in order to become a world centre of power," he said.

The BBC's Justin Pearce in Luanda says the summit is expected to see more progress towards the creation of a free trade area in the region within the next 10 years.


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02 Aug 02 | Africa
09 Jul 02 | Africa
13 Jan 02 | Africa
12 Jan 02 | Africa
12 Aug 01 | Africa
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