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Angola: operations to support the transition to peace

30-09-2004 Operational Update

Following the signing of the Luena peace agreement in April 2002, a certain degree of normality has returned to the country, although landmines and other unexploded ordnance still pose risks in several provinces. The ICRC, with the support of the Angola Red Cross Society, works to raise awareness of this problem. An extensive tracing network also exists to help re-establish links between family members still separated by the conflict.

The following is a round up of operations from January to September 2004.

 
Protection 
 

Since the end of the conflict in 2002, a vast programme aimed at reuniting Angolans separated during the conflict has become the priority of the ICRC and the Angola Red Cross (CVA).

Since January 2004, 75,704 Red Cross Messages have been exchanged through this network (more than 303,000 since 2002). In the same period, 4,454 persons opened new tracing requests. The ICRC is assisting a total of 16,491 persons find out the whereabouts of their loved ones.

A further 156 un-accompanied minors were registered (1,575 since April 2002). Since the beginning of 2004, 141 minors have been reunited with their families (a total of 777 have been reunited since 2002, 393 by the ICRC). 425 cases are still active.

The third issue of the Red Cross Gazette, a list of persons unaccounted for and of children looking for their parents or relatives, was issued in May with close to 13,000 names.

This will help families and children to re-establish contacts with separated relatives. National Red Cross Societies distributed 3,500 copies in Angola, Zambia, the DRC and Namibia, as well as in several other countries with significant numbers of Angolan refugees.

The list has also been made available on the ICRC website (http://www.familylinks.icrc.org) . This will make the information accessible to Angolans outside the region and to National Societies around the world. The Gazette is the first of its kind on the African continent and has helped 239 families re-establish contacts so far.  
Mine Action 
 

The ICRC supports three Ministry of Health rehabilitation centres in Luanda, Huambo and Kuito.

Since the beginning of the ICRC's orthopaedic programme in Angola in 1979, over 29,000 prostheses have been manufactured. The development of ICRC technology contributes to an annual production of over 1,500 lower limb prostheses in Angola.

The assistance provided covers technical and financial support to these 3 orthopaedic centres, including the manufacture and fitting of prostheses, as well as the manufacture of crutches and distribution of wheelchairs. All these services, including physiotherapy, transport and accommodation, are provided free of charge.

Since January 2004, 1,495 patients have received prostheses (around 70% of them mine victims). 2,348 pairs of crutches and 231 wheelchairs have been distributed.

In addition to rehabilitation, the ICRC supports the CVA mine awareness programme in Bié and Benguela. Since January 2004, delegates visited more than 300 communities in eight municipalities raising awareness among more than 23,200 people through presentations, theatre and songs.

Volunteers also received information from local people about dangerous devices yet to be cleared and passed it on to th e relevant authorities and demining organizations, which are encouraged to take the necessary measures to make the areas safe.

In order to ensure that refugees in neighbouring countries also receive basic knowledge about the mine/unexploded ordnance risk in Angola, the ICRC in Namibia has started awareness-raising activities for Angolan refugees in Osire camp.

 
Health  
 

The ICRC works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, providing assistance to 6 primary health care posts in Huila province. More than 60,000 persons are living in the areas covered by these health posts and have access to medical care.

In the 5 posts for which figures are available, more than 54,500 consultations and 156 health education sessions have been carried out since January 2004. Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC has ensured the supply of medicines to all 6 posts thanks to the support of NGOs and health authorities.

Forty people attended a training course for traditional birth attendants that took place in Dongo. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the ICRC distributed more than 4,000 insecticide treated mosquito nets for beds occupied by pregnant women and mothers of children under-5 in the Dongo community.

 
Water and Sanitation 
 

Activities are concentrated in Huambo and Bié provinces, where the ICRC is carrying out construction, rehabilitation and/or maintenance of spring catchments in rural areas.

This project aims at improving the access to safe drinking water for the rural population, especially in regions where many displaced people are returning. Since January 2004, 120 spring catchments were rehabilitated or maintained for around 124,000 beneficiaries. Training is given to the population on hygiene and on how to use and maintain these facilities.

 
Cooperation 
 

The ICRC, the CVA and the International Federation have regular coordination meetings, which focus on enhancing the capacity of the CVA to fulfil its statutory roles and responsibilities.

The ICRC and CVA are focusing special efforts on increasing the efficiency of their joint tracing activities, on strengthening the CVA capacity to manage and carry out its mine awareness programme and on reinforcing the operational partnership with the 18 provincial branches.

The ICRC and the International Federation have renewed their commitment to support the CVA in the organization of a General Assembly in 2005. Meanwhile, in order to initiate the reform process, Provincial Assemblies are taking place in all 18 provinces.    

 
Preventive action - dissemination 
 

The ICRC actively promotes the dissemination of international humanitarian law (IHL) and the principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to members of the armed forces, the police, authorities and civilians.

So far this year, dissemination sessions have been provided to around 3,770 arms carriers, as well as to 2,319 political, traditional and religious leaders, teachers and NGOs. More informal sessions focusing on the re-establishme nt of family links were organised for around 4,000 civilians.

Regular radio programmes in Huambo and Kuito also contributed to the dissemination of these principles.

A round table on IHL and its incorporation into national legislation was organised with representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Justice and Interior, the National Assembly, the SADC and the Angolan Bar Association.