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Angola: ICRC closes Kuito office

29-12-2006 News Release

Luanda, 29.12.06 (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will close its office in Bié province by the end of 2006, ending more than two and a half decades of ICRC presence in the city of Kuito.

The ICRC will close its office in Bié province, but will not stop its activities. The province of Bié will continue to receive ICRC support from its office in Huambo.

The ICRC started its activities in the province of Bié in April 1981, with a nutritional evaluation team. For the first eight years, the ICRC provided significant medical and nutritional assistance to the population. The ICRC has maintained an almost constant presence in Kuito, with the exception of three periods in the 1990s when the security situation forced a temporary suspension of activities.

During the armed conflict, the ICRC was able to provide displaced and resident populations affected by the conflict with food, household items and shelter material. The ICRC also provided medical assistance and medicines to Kuito's central hospital, and to health and physical rehabilitation centres in the city. Various communities benefited from the construction of public fountains and the distribution of safe drinking water. During this period, the ICRC kept a permanent and impartial dialogue with the arms carriers to respect the law of war and to ensure access to the victims.

With the end of the armed conflict in 2002, the ICRC put its efforts into addressing the consequences of the conflict. The return of a great number of refugees and IDPs became the biggest challenge for the ICRC. In order to respond to the needs of thousands of people who were separated from their families, the ICRC developed a family reunification program. The ICRC also noticed that most of the population were returning to areas with a significant presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance. Therefore, it helped to develo p a mine risk education program. Bié also benefited from the construction of five safe play areas for children aimed at reducing the accidents caused by mines and unexploded ordnance.

The ICRC is closing its office because it concluded that after four years of peace, the country is no longer facing a humanitarian emergency, but moving forward to a long-term development phase.

The ICRC would like to thank its local employees who in difficult circumstances worked in order to alleviate the consequences of the conflict. The ICRC would also like to thank all the institutions that supported ICRC activities in Angola.

For more information, please to contact Marcelino Brinco on the following address
  ICRC Delegation in Angola, Luanda
  Tel: 222 265 117 or 923 468 595