Tens of thousands of people are starving to death In Central Angola but are unattended because international aid agencies are not allowed to venture into “unsafe areas” or charitable organisations cannot donate resources because Angola is classified as a potentially rich country with massive resources.
These resources, however, circulate mainly in Luanda and among the ruling clique, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos being reputedly one of the richest men in Africa, if not the richest. Rich in mineral resources, Angola has been unable to cater for its civilian population, one per cent of whom are land mine victims, because of the 40-year civil war, first against Portugal and then carried on in fighting between MPLA and UNITA.
With the death of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi on 20th February, the path was prepared for peace between the two factions, which took place in March. However, thousands of refugees are packed into concentration camp-style refuges, where tens drop dead, every day, through malnutrition.
European eye-witnesses tell horror stories of walking skeletons, of mothers pleading with doctors to save their dying babies, of starving children too weak even to cry. These are not stories about isolated groups of people, but tens of thousands of starving civilians, caught up between the fighting factions, apparently ignored by the rest of the world.
Only French organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Frontiers) is operating in the three camps in Huambo, Central Angola.In Bunjei camp, there are 14,000 refugees, another 8,000 in Chilembo and 20,000 in Chipindo. Hmanitarian aid agencies are forbidden to venture outside what are classified as “safe areas”.
UN spokesperson explained that “The World Food Programme and other UNO agencies cannot intervene in Bunjei and in other areas which are considered unsafe. Apart from this, we have stocks which constitute 50% of needs. The community of donor countries is giving less and less to Angola, a country which is considered a rich country. If this situation goes on, we will be at rupture point within three months”.
The international community cannot help and the Angolan authorities are living so comfortably in Luanda that these starving thousands have become curiously invisible. Another shame for mankind.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru