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Tuesday, August 24, 1999 Published at 04:40 GMT 05:40 UK

World: Africa

Security Council blasted over Angola

Two million people are living in precarious circumstances

By Jane Hughes in New York

Senior United Nations officials have criticised the Security Council for doing too little to stop the civil war in Angola.

At a briefing in New York, the UN official in charge of humanitarian affairs, Sergio Vieira de Mello, said the Security Council's indecision had caused the continued death of hundreds of Angolans each day.

Angolans are experiencing a level of despair that exists virtually nowhere else in the world today, according to the World Food Programme.

The WFP's Catherine Bertini: "The picture is very bleak"
Its executive director, Catherine Bertini, told the Security Council that Angolans had become so desperate to survive, they are risking lives to collect land mine marker sticks to use as firewood.

The Security Council heard that 1.7m people have been forced to flee their homes and that 200 hundred are dying every day from malnutrition.

Two million people are known to need aid, but only 600,000 are actually getting it.

Aid warning

The BBC's Jane Standley reports: "They feel the world has turned its back on them"
Mr de Mello said three million Angolans are completely inaccessible to aid agencies, and the situation could worsen:

"It is unfair to leave humanitarian aid agencies on the front lines and to take humanitarian assistance in these conditions for granted when only 30% of the territory is accessible to humanitarian agencies," he said.

"In this insecurity, with civilian populations at risk, with humanitarian staff under constant attack, we may have to consider at some point suspending assistance as was almost the case two and a half months ago."

UN relief agencies say they have requested $106m in funds, but have only received $40m.

The United Nations is reopening a liaison office in Luanda, which it closed in February because of the breakdown in the peace accord, but Mr de Mello called on the Security Council to do more to bring peace to the country.

Otherwise, he said, hundreds of people would continue to die every day and the entire region could be destabilised by the situation.

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