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Angola: helping displaced persons

29-07-2003 News Release 03/88

The ICRC has launched a major relief programme for almost 20,000 people who have just returned to their home town of Chinhama, in the south-eastern part of Huambo province, after an enforced absence of several years.

The programme started on 23 July with a delivery of food sufficient for three months, plus blankets, buckets, kitchen utensils, seed and tools. This will cover the needs of the population until the planting season starts in October, at which time the ICRC will be distributing four types of seed and further supplies of food. The programme should enable the people of Chinhama to become self-sufficient in food during the course of 2004.

The 20,000 beneficiaries of this programme - almost 80% of the population of Chinhama - had to flee the heavy fighting that virtually destroyed the town during the final months of the Angolan conflict. Since their return, they have been among the most isolated and vulnerable people in the province - Chinhama was cut off from aid because of mines on the access roads. The ICRC called in demining organizations, and the roads have been usable since June. The ICRC was the first humanitarian agency to enter this region since 1987, when the organization flew in emergency food supplies.

The ICRC's priority in Angola during 2003 is to help displaced persons return to their homes. The organization's comprehensive approach will also include resolving the problems of access to water and medical care. In Chinhama, the ICRC will start work next month on building a new health centre with accommodation for the doctor, nurses and other staff (appointed by the ministry of health). Once this is complete, the ICRC will supply essential medicines and help train the personnel.

Since the beginning of 2003, over 150,000 people in Huambo's poorest towns have received similar assistance from the ICRC.

 Further information: Olivier Moeckli, ICRC Luanda, tel. ++244 91 21 7093