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Angola: Self-sufficiency in one growing season?

28-11-2002 News Release

For many years, as conflict raged in Angola, the ICRC ensured the survival of 10,000 families (some 40,000 people) in three camps for internally displaced persons close to Huambo, on the central Planalto, an area especially hard hit by fighting, disease and poverty.

Very soon after the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the warring parties on 4 April this year, these people started thinking about returning to their places of origin. By August, it became apparent that a majority of them were commuting between the camps and their former homes, some of them walking up to 60 km, in order to prepare for a permanent move.

At first, only a few men went for several days at a time on scouting expeditions, but soon the trips became longer and more frequent, involving many thousands of camp dwellers. By September, the Cruzeiro camp had completely emptied out. Its residents had headed mainly for the villages of Sambo and Samboto, south of Huambo, driven by the compelling need to get ready for the new planting season at home. Within a week, there was no sign that the camp had ever existed. All useful materials had been carried away by the departing residents and any remaining items had been taken by local people for their own use.

In order to help the returnees achieve self-sufficiency by April next year, the ICRC distributed aid parcels to the original 10,000 families and to an additional 7,500 families, including a number of extremely vulnerable people living in Kululo, in the far north of Huambo province, who had not received assistance from any other humanitarian organization. The relief programme started in September and continued throughout October with distributions of food rations, seed and tools. To ensure that the seed is not eaten, food rations will continue to be handed out until April 2003, by which time the beneficiaries should be harvesting their own crops. In May, a survey will be conducted to determine whether assistance is need ed for the next planting season or whether the beneficiaries have achieved self-sufficiency in one growing season.

 Further information: Caspar Landolt, ICRC Luanda, tel. ++0024 42 264 454