|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/SC/1249|
|Release Date: 28 July 2000|
|Security Council Holds Meeting on Situation in Angola|
NEW YORK, 27 July (UN Headquarters) -- Angola’s mineral and human wealth had the potential to eradicate poverty in a relatively short time, make it a prosperous country and promote the well-being of all its people, given the political will to make peace a reality, Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, told the Security Council today during its open meeting on Angola.
For that reason, he said, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' indication of willingness to pardon Jonas Savimbi, leader of the rebel Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA), and his followers was a welcome development. To give peace a chance would require increased efforts in the political, social and economic spheres, as well as a spirit of reconciliation by all Angolans, he added, as he introduced the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Office in Angola.
The fact that UNITA bore the primary responsibility for the return to war in Angola must be reaffirmed, he said. The rebel group’s failure to live up to peace agreements was primarily responsible for the renewed violence and continuation of Angola's civil war. The Security Council had exposed the weaknesses in implementing sanctions imposed against UNITA and had named the alleged sanctions violators. States must act responsibly and avoid actions that would facilitate the continuation of the war.
He said the Angolan Government had made commendable efforts to improve the economy. It was committed to greater transparency, particularly in financial transactions. That commitment must be backed by concrete actions. The introduction of reforms in the diamond production sector and the continued reformation of the petroleum industry were encouraging. However, those efforts tended to be offset by the continuation of hostilities. Seventy per cent of Angolans currently lived below the poverty line.
Also addressing the Council, Albino Malungo, Angola's Minister for Social Assistance, stressed that the Lusaka Protocol, which should have led Angola to peace, had never been implemented in its totality. Jonas Savimbi had rejected its crucial provisions: the demilitarization of his forces and the establishment of State administration in areas illegally occupied by UNITA. In 1998, Mr. Savimbi had once again undertaken force to achieve power -- a decision that had reignited the flames of war following UNITA’s unprecedented rearming.
Sadly, he noted, the rearming had taken place with the open support of a number of countries and leaders, including Africans. Not all voices had condemned Mr. Savimbi’s actions or taken steps to pressure him into abandoning his plans for war. The Angolan Government had been forced to adopt political and military measures to contain UNITA, an objective that had been achieved. UNITA’s conventional war capacity had been destroyed and no longer constituted an immediate threat to the Government.
More than 92 per cent of Angolan territory was now under the control of legal authorities, he went on. More than 11,000 rebel soldiers had thrown down their arms and hundreds of others continued to do so each month. They were being reintegrated into society. Angola urged the international community to continue to apply pressure through the strict observance of sanctions against those who rejected the Lusaka Protocol.
He said that Security Council actions, strengthened by the report of the Sanctions Committee's Panel of Experts, had increased regional solidarity in Southern and Central Africa, dramatically raising the cost of doing business for Mr. Savimbi and the potential cost to those who may be identified as UNITA collaborators. The eventual success of those concerted efforts would improve living standards in Angola and contribute to economic growth.
Council President M. Patricia Durrant, (Jamaica), speaking in her national capacity, said Mr. Savimbi had been given numerous opportunities to reach a political settlement, yet his forces continued to perpetrate wanton violence on the Angolan people. Those who assisted UNITA to continue fighting were equally guilty of perpetuating the human tragedy in Angola.
Robert Fowler (Canada), Chairman of the Security Council's Committee on Sanctions against Angola, expressed concern about the impending breakdown in the World Food Programme's (WFP) food pipeline, expected in September. The tenuous security situation had compounded the situation. Calling on both the Government and UNITA to guarantee the security of humanitarian workers and convoys, he emphasized that while the Government had not always provided that support, UNITA had never cooperated. The Government’s efforts to address human rights abuses were noteworthy, but there was no way to deal with those perpetrated in UNITA-occupied territory.
Lesotho's representative said that the single motivating factor for Mr. Savimbi's continuation of the civil war and refusal to heed numerous Security Council resolutions was greed for power and for Angola’s economic wealth. As preventable diseases like polio caused death and suffering to an ever-increasing number of people, efforts to halt its spread would not bear fruit as long as war forced thousands of people to leave the hinterland for sanctuary in already-crowded cities. Resettlement plans for thousands of displaced people should be put in place at the same time that the polio immunization campaign was intensified.
The United States delegate, speaking on behalf of the troika of observer States to the Lusaka Protocol (United States, Russian Federation and Portugal), emphasized the need for dialogue among all sectors of Angolan society. A recent Congress for Peace attended by Government officials, political party representatives, civil society activists and religious leaders, had conveyed a message of democracy, tolerance, non-violence, human rights, dialogue and reconciliation. The participation of Mr. Savimbi in such a dialogue could only be considered when he took irreversible steps to fully implement the Lusaka Protocol.
France's representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, praised recent initiatives by the Church, civil society and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to end the Angolan conflict. A number of States in the region had affirmed their decision to break off all ties with UNITA and the SADC had signalled its intent to ensure full implementation of the sanctions against the group. The illicit trade in diamonds was now the focus of international dialogue and the recent international congress on that subject was encouraging. The modalities for international trafficking should be carefully studied before regulations against trafficking could be implemented.
Also speaking in today's meeting were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Tunisia, Mali, Russian Federation, Namibia, China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Argentina, Ukraine, Netherlands, Japan, Mozambique and Brazil.
The meeting began at 11:35 a.m. and was suspended at 1:16 p.m. It resumed at 3:25 p.m. and adjourned at 4:45 p.m.
Council Work Programme
When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Office in Angola (document S/2000/678). In it he reiterates the primary responsibility of the rebel Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Savimbi, for the country's return to war. Its refusal to comply with key provisions of the Lusaka Protocol (S/1994/1441, annex), particularly its failure to demilitarize and to allow the extension of State administration throughout Angola, precipitated the resumption of widespread hostilities.
The Secretary-General expresses deep concern over the devastating impact on the population of continuing fighting between the rebel army and the Angolan Armed Forces, and over the absence of any meaningful attempt to reach a political settlement of the conflict. Although government forces continue to reduce UNITA's conventional war capability, guerrilla activities persist in many parts of the country, perpetuating the prevailing insecurity and considerably reducing the amount of humanitarian assistance that can be delivered by road.
According to the report, Government forces allege that from their new advance command post in Luena, capital of Moxico Province, Government forces launched offensives southwards to capture UNITA elements attempting to regroup near the Angola-Zambia border. They allege that a significant number of UNITA troops were moving freely across the border with the connivance of Zambian forces. Tensions between Angola and Zambia heightened in May, when the latter alleged that Angolan troops pursuing rebels clashed with Zambian forces, resulting in military and civilian casualties.
The report says that similar operations carried out with the permission of the Namibian authorities resulted in the Angolan forces taking control of almost all its southern border. In retaliation for Namibia's sealing of the border in the Caprivi Strip to prevent UNITA forces from retreating into Namibia, the rebels reportedly attacked Government installations and private property in north-eastern Namibia's Kavango region. Several civilians were reported killed.
Government forces have made substantial gains in Angola's central highlands, the report says. They have consolidated positions around Huambo, Vila Nova and Vista Alegre. Isolated terrorist acts were reported in Huambo city, where an explosive device blew up the national television repeater antenna on 22 April. The hostilities have had a negative impact on law and order throughout the country and the Angolan National Police, in addition to its traditional role, is fighting alongside the army. Civilians have reportedly been armed and organized into civil defence groups in areas of potential conflict with UNITA.
Regarding the investigations into the crashes of two United Nations aircraft in Angola on 26 December 1998 and 2 January 1999 (UN 806 and UN 806A respectively), the report says authorities recently confirmed that security has been consolidated in the area of the first crash and that they were ready to assist the United Nations recovery team to visit the site. Arrangements are under way to dispatch the team.
On the political front, the report says, Angola and Zambia have accused each other of territorial violations. But it was announced on 1 July that an agreement had been reached to establish a 10-member Joint Verification team with the principal responsibility of investigating charges of border violations. The two countries have also agreed to create a permanent communication link between their regional military commanders and security chiefs in Moxico and Cuando Cubango (Angola) and Zambia's north-western and western provinces.
According to the report, President Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique, in his capacity as Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), announced in April his intention to call an urgent meeting of the 14-member organization's ruling parties to explore ways of ending the war. But President Jose Eduardo dos Santos rejected the initiative, saying the conflict was an internal matter and that Angolans have not yet exhausted all the possibilities for resolving it.
The report says the Presidents of Burkina Faso and Togo also appealed for dialogue between the Government and UNITA, but on 25 April, President dos Santos criticized some African leaders for interfering in Angola's internal affairs and for supporting UNITA. The Government subsequently launched an intensive diplomatic campaign to change the venue of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit in the Togolese capital of Lome. Referring to the report of the Panel of Experts established by the Security Council (S/2000/203), the Government accused Togo's President Gnassingbe Eyadema of sanctions-busting and supporting UNITA.
Inside Angola, a coalition of opposition parties called on the National Assembly to convince President dos Santos and Mr. Savimbi to cease hostilities and agree to a broad-based dialogue for peace and genuine national reconciliation. Church leaders have also continued to call on UNITA and the Government to seek a negotiated peace. The UNITA has reacted positively to the Church initiative, but the Secretary-General of the ruling Movimento Popular para a Liberaciao de Angola (MPLA) ruled out dialogue as long as Mr. Savimbi continued to maintain a private army and was obsessed with taking power by force.
However, on 19 June, President dos Santos reaffirmed the validity of the Lusaka Protocol and indicated that Mr. Savimbi and his supporters could be forgiven if they renounced war. According to the President, the ongoing political and military campaigns are aimed at exerting pressure on the rebel movement to return to implementation of the Lusaka Protocol. In a related development, Mr. Savimbi said in a May newspaper interview that a summit between President dos Santos and himself would bring about an end to the war. He claimed that the Government’s rejection of dialogue and the continuation of sanctions against UNITA were clear indications of a Government and United Nations conspiracy to eliminate him.
The Secretary-General observes that although Angola’s overall human rights situation remains grave, there are indications that the Government is prepared to recognize the existence of abuses and to develop regular procedures to address them. Community-based initiatives undertaken in partnership with the Government, churches and non-governmental organizations are showing a slow but encouraging growth in their impact on the overall human rights situation.
According to the report, Angola’s humanitarian situation remains precarious. During the period under review, more than a million persons continued to rely on food distribution to survive and an estimated 2.5 million received some kind of humanitarian assistance. By the end of the review period, the World Food Programme (WFP) was facing a possible breakdown in the food pipeline from the end of August. Although the nutritional situation remained positive in most locations, in some areas malnutrition rates have increased.
The report states that humanitarian access to at-risk populations increased during the reporting period as new locations came under Government administration. However, road access remained restricted throughout the country with only coastal roads and routes within the secure perimeters of major provincial cities being useable by humanitarian agencies.
At the end of June, there were an estimated 2.5 million internally displaced persons, approximately 20 per cent of the total population, the report says. As part of ongoing efforts to find durable solutions to the problems of internal displacement, provincial authorities are drafting resettlement plans for implementation in the near future.
The Secretary-General concludes by pledging the commitment of the United Nations system and the international community as a whole to continue supporting the Government's efforts to supply basic services to the Angolan people, including those living in regions formerly occupied by UNITA.
Introducing the report of the Secretary-General, IBRAHIM GAMBARI, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, stated that if peace was given a chance, Angola’s endowment in mineral and human resources would provide the country with a great potential to eradicate poverty in a relatively short period and promote the well-being of all Angolans. Hence, it would be possible to make Angola a prosperous country again if there was the political will to take concrete actions to make that a reality.
There was a need for increased efforts in political, social and economic spheres, as well as a need to adopt a spirit of reconciliation by all Angolans. Therefore the proposal by President dos Santos to pardon all members of UNITA, including Jonas Savimbi, if they decided to lay down their arms and commit themselves to peace was a welcome development.
He said the Secretary-General had indicated that the continuous fighting was disturbing. Consequently, meaningful steps towards the settlement of the conflict needed to be taken. The fact that UNITA bore the primary responsibility for the return to war in Angola must be reaffirmed and it was the group’s failure to live up to peace agreements that was primarily responsible for the renewed violence and continuation of the war.
On the issue of sanctions against Angola, he noted that the Council had exposed the weaknesses of the implementation of measures imposed against UNITA and had named the alleged sanctions violators. States must act responsibly and avoid actions that would facilitate the continuation of the war. Also, the situation of internally displaced persons was an illustration of the disastrous consequences of the war. While the primary responsibility for addressing the plight of those internally displaced persons lay with the Government, the international community had a critical supporting role. Civil society had an important role to play in bringing about peace and reconciliation in Angola. Recently, they had taken a number of initiatives, including the call to lay down arms in that country.
The Government had also been making commendable efforts to improve Angola’s economy, he continued. It was committed to greater transparency, particularly in financial transactions, and that commitment needed to be backed with concrete actions. The introduction of reforms in the diamond production sector and the continued reformation of the petroleum industry were encouraging. However, those efforts tended to be offset by the continuation of hostilities. Seventy per cent of Angolans currently lived below the poverty line.
The Government had announced its intention to hold national elections towards the end of 2001 and the authorities in the country were working for free and fair elections, he said. Meanwhile, the Head of the United Nations Office in Angola had been selected and was expected to resume his duties shortly. The Security Council mandate for the Office required that it focus on humanitarian issues and capacity-building. The new Head of the United Nations Office in Angola and the Organization would continue to work towards achieving peace in the country.
ALBINO MALUNGO, Minister for Social Assistance of Angola, stressed that the Lusaka Protocol, which should have led Angola to peace, had never been implemented in its totality. Jonas Savimbi had rejected its crucial provisions: the demilitarization of his forces and the establishment of State administration in areas illegally occupied by UNITA. In 1998, Mr. Savimbi had once again used force to achieve power, just as he had done in 1992 following his defeat in the country’s first national elections. That decision had relit the flames of a war that was shorter in duration, but far greater in intensity due to UNITA’s unprecedented rearming.
Sadly, that rearming had taken place with the open support of a number of countries and leaders, including Africans, he said. Regrettably, not all voices had condemned Mr. Savimbi’s actions or taken steps to pressure him into abandoning his plans for war. The Angolan Government had been forced to adopt political and military measures to contain UNITA, an objective that had been achieved. The UNITA’s conventional war capacity had been destroyed and no longer constituted an immediate threat to the Government.
Measures by the Angolan authorities envisioned the fulfilment of the Lusaka Protocol’s provisions that had not been implemented voluntarily. More than 92 per cent of Angolan territory was now under the control of legal authorities, more than 11,000 rebel soldiers had thrown down their arms and hundreds of others continued to do so each month. They were being reintegrated into society. Angola urged the international community to continue to apply pressure through the strict observance of sanctions against those who rejected the Lusaka Protocol.
He said that Security Council actions, strengthened by the report of the Sanctions Committee's Panel of Experts, had increased regional solidarity in Southern and Central Africa, dramatically raising the cost of doing business for Mr. Savimbi, as well as the potential cost to those who might be identified as UNITA collaborators. The eventual success of those concerted efforts would improve living standards in Angola and contribute to economic growth.
The Government of Angola applauded the establishment of the Experts Panel which would help guarantee the effective application of Security Council resolutions within the logic of “smart sanctions”, he said. The Government was encouraged by events in the international diamond industry, specifically, announcements by the De Beers corporation and the recently concluded self-regulation measures by an industry that had financially sustained destabilizing rebels elements and corrupt leaders in Africa and elsewhere.
A week-long international peace conference organized by the Catholic Church had just ended in Luanda, he said. Six Government Ministers and two Vice-Ministers had participated and a personal message from Pope John Paul II had been read to 220 participants, including members of the clergy, civil society and the Government. Hopefully, those grass-roots efforts by the Church and Angolan citizens would have a positive impact on the country’s crisis.
Health remained the most underfunded sector of the entire humanitarian programme in Angola, he said. Hospitals and health centres were understaffed, underfunded and lacking in basic equipment and medicines. Malaria, diarrhoea and tuberculosis remained prevalent throughout the country and, in many locations, children had not been vaccinated against life-threatening diseases. The Government urgently requested donors to remains steadfast in sustaining progress being made to improve the living conditions of all Angolans.
ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said the political and security situation of Angola had been a priority of the Council for sometime and, just over a year ago, it had seemed as if a breakthrough would be made. However, despite onerous efforts by the Council and other bodies of the United Nations, UNITA exercised control over vast areas of the country and did not seem to respect those efforts for peace.
Jonas Savimbi had continued his plundering in violation of the commitments that he had entered, he said. Consequently, the Security Council had elected to set aside the issue of the situation in Angola and the Angolan people had continued to suffer. Subsequently, the Council had taken the decision to go back to basics to ensure durable peace in Angola. First, the diamonds-for-arms link had to be broken, as that allowed UNITA to continue the war.
He noted that due to the outstanding work of the Panel of Experts and the adoption of resolution 1295 (2000), it could now be said that sanctions against UNITA were having a positive impact. Yet, they could not become fully effective overnight, as UNITA still had access to diamonds and to those who sold them arms in exchange for diamonds. The Council must demand that UNITA and Mr. Savimbi honour the terms of the Lusaka Accord.
The responsibility for ending the war and achieving durable peace lay solely with UNITA, he said. The Government’s rationale of the situation was reasonable, even though resources were not readily available to relieve the dire need of that country’s Government.
He expressed concern about the Secretary-General’s observation on the impending food pipeline breakdown in September. The tenuous security situation had rendered granting humanitarian assistance difficult. Therefore, he was calling on both the Government and UNITA to guarantee the security of humanitarian workers and convoys. While the Government had not always provided that support, UNITA had never cooperated, he emphasized. It was also important to improve the registration system for internally displaced persons in Angola -- a necessary step in ensuring protection for the population. The Government’s efforts to address human rights abuses was noteworthy, but there was no measurement to deal with those committed in the territory occupied by UNITA. In that light, he would urge the Government to investigate reports of abuses and punish those guilty of committing them.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States), on behalf of the troika of observer States to the Lusaka Protocol, emphasized that that body had never wavered in its commitment to the Lusaka Protocol, which continued to offer the best framework for the restoration of peace and national reconciliation in Angola. The troika believed that the responsibility for the breakdown of the Lusaka Protocol rested primarily with UNITA’s leader, Jonas Savimbi. Hence, a number of actions had been taken against UNITA, including the passage of three sets of sanctions. Those sanctions should be fully and unconditionally implemented. Although the Council had assigned responsibility for the ongoing tragedy, it had never wavered in the belief that there was no viable military solution to the present crisis.
The troika encouraged dialogue between all sectors of the Angolan society towards finding the means of bringing a just and lasting peace, he continued. In that light, the recent convening of the congress for Peace attended by Government officials, political party representatives, civil society activists and religious leaders was welcome. Its message of democracy, tolerance, non-violence, human rights, dialogue and reconciliation should be taken up by Angolans and deserved the support of the international community.
The participation of Mr. Savimbi in such a dialogue could only be considered when he took irreversible steps to fully implement the Lusaka Protocol, he said. His obligations to the people of Angola and to the international community remained unchanged and non-negotiable.
He called on the international donor community to expand its humanitarian assistance to the Angolan population and to intensify cooperation with the Government of Angola to overcome the consequences of the long-lasting conflict. Particular attention should be paid to the socio-economic rehabilitation of areas previously under UNITA control. However, the need for humanitarian assistance to Angola did not detract from the Government’s responsibility in that regard. Also, there should be continued investigation of the downing of United Nations aircraft over central Angola and it was also necessary to determine the fate of the crews and passengers of Russian and Ukrainian commercial airplanes downed under suspicious circumstances over territory then controlled by UNITA.
ALISTAIR HARRISON (United Kingdom) said his delegation would be endorsing the statement to be made by the representative of France, on behalf of the European Union.
The United Kingdom was concerned at the appalling human rights situation in Angola, he said. It welcomed the initiatives of civil society to address it, the latest being the international peace conference. Dialogue and reconciliation, not military force was the way forward.
Welcoming the appointment of a new head for the United Nations Office in Angola, he expressed the hope that the Office would now be able to fulfil its mandate.
He said that Peter Hain, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, would be making an important statement to the House of Commons regarding UNITA’s sale of diamonds. The Hansard parliamentary record of that statement would be circulated to Security Council members.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) welcomed the agreement between Angola and Zambia to create a joint verification team to investigate allegations of border violations and initiatives to promote dialogue.
He also welcomed President dos Santos’ commitment to the Lusaka Protocol and his readiness to forgive those rebels willing to lay down their arms. The presence of the United Nations Office in Angola would contribute significantly to bringing about peace in the country.
Noting that insecurity due to guerrilla actions had reduced the access of humanitarian agencies to at-risk populations, he expressed concern over the large number of internally displaced people in Angola. It was necessary to help the authorities to resettle them in secure areas.
With poverty becoming endemic, he expressed the hope that the return to stability in areas once again under Government control would have a tangible effect in stabilizing the economic and social situation of Angola.
He welcomed the release of five Russian crewmen taken hostage by UNITA in May 1999.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said a solution to the Angolan crisis could only be found through political means. As the Secretary-General had highlighted in his report, the enduring conflict was a source of grave concern because of the precarious humanitarian situation that had been created. Policies to improve the living conditions of those who had been affected by the war needed to be defined. Recently, the Government and civil society had collaborated on a plan of action to define concrete measures to be taken to alleviate the suffering of the Angolan people. In the same vein, the action of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to achieve sustainable human development should be encouraged.
He stated that the prolongation of the conflict and the risk of its spill over to neighbouring countries were also matters of concern. Therefore, because only a political solution could contribute to the achievement of lasting peace in Angola, it was gratifying that the authorities there continued to adhere to the Lusaka Accord. The UNITA must be urged to do the same and the Security Council must support efforts for dialogue leading to peace and lasting national reconciliation. The initiatives taken by civil society and the church in Angola were noteworthy, and it was very important to support the process of democracy and the improvement of the human rights situation that the Government had undertaken.
GENNADI GATILOV (Russian Federation) noted that he shared the view of other Council members that the leader of UNITA had excluded himself from the political process. He further believed that consistent implementation and enhancement of the sanctions regime against UNITA was an important element in achieving peace in Angola. He appealed to the international donor community to expand its support to Angola so it could weather the aftermath of the crisis.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said violations of Security Council sanctions against UNITA were of great concern. The report of the Panel of Experts had been the first of its kind to describe the magnitude of those violations and what could be done to make them effective. However, the Panel had not completed its investigations due to limited time. Namibia welcomed the Secretary-General’s appointment of a five-member team to serve on a monitoring mechanism to investigate further allegations of sanctions evasion against UNITA.
He also welcomed the bold measures adopted in Antwerp this month by the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association with a view to combating the sale of diamonds from conflict zones. Such sales had funded rebel movements in Africa that had killed, maimed and mutilated millions of innocent civilians in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. If implemented, those measures would be a big step towards limiting or significantly reducing the capacity of African rebel movements to wage war against legitimate governments.
Regarding the humanitarian situation, he said Namibia was encouraged by Government efforts to put in place national structures, logistics and funds to address the plight of war-affected populations and internally displaced persons. Of great concern was the presence in Angola of 6 to 7 million landmines and 79 types of unexploded devices. Namibia commended the humanitarian agencies and urged the international community to provide funds to assist Government endeavours.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) pointed out that lately the situation in Angola had been stable due to the efforts of the Government. It had worked on the human rights and humanitarian situation and tried to improve the country’s economy. However, according to the Secretary-General’s report, about 20 per cent of the population was currently internally displaced, evidence of the continued need for international assistance.
He stated that the international community must condemn UNITA’s actions, and sanctions against the rebel group must be tightened. The Security Council had recently established monitoring mechanisms against UNITA and he would appeal to all parties to comply with the Council and cease providing UNITA with arms or any form of support for the war. Sanctions against UNITA were the most effective means to achieve peace and the United Nations must make efforts to induce UNITA to quickly lay down their arms and embark on the path to reconciliation.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) expressed concern at the humanitarian situation in Angola. It had been reported by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) that about 3 million people in Angola might need some kind of humanitarian assistance in the months ahead. Children’s health was in danger and those who had abandoned their homes during earlier conflicts had been seriously affected.
He was further concerned at the lack of access by international humanitarian workers to populations at risk, especially those in guerrilla controlled areas due to rebel activities in several provinces. The location and timing of attacks by the rebels were often unpredictable and almost all areas along the eastern and southern borders remained out of bounds to humanitarian agencies.
He stated that his delegation was also concerned at the plight of children caught in the conflict and was particularly alarmed at the disclosure by the WFP that it might face a possible breakdown in the food pipeline from the end of September unless new contributions were received. In addition, the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons remained intractable. Even more disturbing was that almost 4 million Angolans were affected by the war. Therefore, the international community must heed the recent appeal by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for a favourable response to the United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Angola.
The meeting was then suspended.
When the Council resumed its meeting, ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) encouraged the Angolan Government to continue to cooperate with the United Nations agencies already working in the field to address the humanitarian situation and improve the condition of those at risk. As indicated in the report of the Emergency Relief Coordinator's rapid assessment mission in March, urgent steps were needed so that the situation did not deteriorate to the point of crisis.
He welcomed the Government's active participation in drawing up a Plan of Emergency Action as well as its approach of identifying the critical needs of the at-risk population and devising a strategy with main aims. Bangladesh supported the Plan's focus on malnutrition, sustenance to internally displaced persons before the planting season, water and sanitation programmes and mother-and-child health care programmes. Bangladesh also supported the Government's ongoing response to the outbreak of diseases and its vaccination campaign.
Access to the civilian population in dire need of assistance was pivotal to any measure of success in containing the situation, he said. It was heartening that humanitarian access had increased with new locations coming under Government administration.
He said the international community must set its sights on the ultimate objective of durable peace, which was a political process. Political space was needed for an open dialogue with all, including UNITA. Civil society in Angola had started urging a cessation of hostilities and a broad-based dialogue for peace and genuine national reconciliation.
ARNOLODO LISTRE (Argentina) said there was no doubt that Mr. Savimbi had systematically failed to comply with Security Council requirements and regulations. There was no long-term viable institutional stability, and sustained peace and growth could only be achieved through political dialogue, particularly with civil society. The creation of the United Nations Office in Angola was a step in the right direction and provided the appropriate presence in the country. In addition, the sanctions regime was consistent with the political approach.
In that light, he said, the Security Council should not be punitive, but should foster conditions for improvement of Angola’s situation. The imposition of sanctions had had an impact on the conflict. Also, the report had raised awareness of the devastating effects of the war on the civilian population, including the displacement of persons and the situation of those needing humanitarian assistance.
VALERI KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said the complexity of stopping the war in Angola could not be underestimated. Ukraine understood the Angolan Government’s position that Jonas Savimbi could no longer be considered a trusted counterpart in any eventual political negotiations.
He said it had to be explained to UNITA that it was in their own interest to put forward a new, unblemished leader, in whom the Government could place its confidence and who would guarantee compliance with any negotiated agreement. The United Nations could play a very concrete role in influencing internal changes within UNITA.
Ukraine, he said, strongly supported and associated itself with the request by the United States delegate, on behalf of the troika, for intensified efforts to determine the fate of the crewmen of the downed Russian commercial plane, over territory then controlled by UNITA, as well as the fate of other foreign nationals missing in Angola.
ADRIAAN KOOIJMANS (Netherlands) said while the Government of Angola had reduced UNITA’s war capability, there had still been no improvement in the security situation in that country. In the absence of dialogue, Mr. Savimbi had reverted to an extensive campaign of guerrilla warfare. As Government control tended to be limited to urban areas, his forces were able to terrorize rural populations in many parts of Angola. As a result, the humanitarian situation remained bleak. Relief workers were being deliberately targeted by UNITA, and the Angolan Government should take steps to improve security in rural areas, allow relief workers full access to the population and promote demining and other activities aimed at returning the displaced.
Furthermore, as a result of the consolidation of Government authority throughout the country, efforts should be made for a political settlement. It was promising that civil society in Angola was nudging the Government in the direction of conducting meaningful dialogue. The United Nations Office in Angola should play an active role in that process.
The human rights situation in Angola’s territory remained alarming, but there were signs that the efforts of the international community to put pressure on UNITA were becoming effective, he said. The imposition of sanctions must be increased. Equally important were the developments in the diamond industry where awareness was growing of the unacceptability of “blood diamonds”. It was also good news that the Angolan Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had agreed on a staff-monitored programme.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), Council President, in her national capacity, said Mr. Savimbi had been given numerous opportunities to reach a political settlement, yet his forces continued to perpetrate wanton violence on the Angolan people. Those who assisted UNITA to continue the fighting were equally culpable for the perpetuation of the human tragedy of Angola. Jamaica renewed its call to UNITA’s leaders to abide by the key provisions of the Lusaka Protocol and to instruct their forces to lay down their weapons and allow the extension of State administration throughout the country.
She said the reemergence of civil society in Angola was an encouraging beginning for the return to normalcy after the guns had been silenced. Jamaica was encouraged by the Government’s reaffirmation of its commitment to the Lusaka Protocol and by President dos Santos’ willingness to forgive Mr. Savimbi and his followers should they renounce war. It was also encouraging that UNITA had reacted positively to a Church initiative to mediate a negotiated peace between UNITA and the Government. While fully aware of past deceptions by the UNITA leadership, the international community must encourage and nurture efforts aimed at achieving peace.
Jamaica welcomed efforts by the Government and the United Nations agencies to draft minimum operational standards for the resettlement of displaced persons into safe areas. Also welcome was the collaboration between the Government, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations in efforts to implement a plan of action for food security, health and nutrition, mine action and other vital sectors of society. Jamaica urged the donor community to respond generously to the next United Nations consolidated appeal, which would be presented in August.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France), on behalf of the European Union and associated States, shared the concern of the Secretary-General about the lack of significant efforts being made to end the conflict. The recent initiatives of the Church and civil society in Angola were commendable, as were those by a number of other organizations in the region, including the SADC. A number of States in the region had affirmed their decision to break off all ties with UNITA and the SADC had signalled its intent to ensure full implementation of the sanctions imposed against the group.
He said the illicit trade in diamonds was now the focus of international dialogue and the recently held international congress in diamonds was encouraging. The Council needed to examine the difference between exploitation and trafficking in diamonds, and the modalities for international trafficking should be carefully studied before implementation of any regulations against that activity. It was important for Angolan authorities to implement social and economic policies to ease the effects of the crisis. The situation for children was also tragic.
HIDEAKI KOBAYASHI (Japan) noted reports of guerrilla activity near the Namibian and Zambian borders, which was destabilizing the situation in those countries. It was therefore necessary to follow the situation closely, lest Angola’s civil war develop into a regional conflict. Since 1993, the Council had imposed sanctions against UNITA, which included prohibiting trade in arms, petroleum products and diamonds, imposition of travel restrictions on persons associated with UNITA, and freezing of the rebel group’s assets. However, those sanctions had been blatantly violated by a number of countries and individuals, rendering them ineffective.
Unless the sanctions regime was strengthened, there would be no early settlement of the conflict, he continued. Rather than focusing on individuals or countries that violated the sanctions, the Council should now explore ways of preventing violations. The Government of Angola had sought to launch a national emergency assistance plan in 1999 to address the deteriorating situation there, a venture that should be supported by the international community. In response to the appeal by the UNHCR, his Government was in the process of examining its contribution for the increasingly serious situation.
CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique) said that in spite of the Angolan Government’s efforts to address serious macroeconomic instability and reduce poverty, the absence of peace was a major obstacle in the way of sustainable human and economic development. The continued fighting and the absence of a meaningful chance for a political settlement were a matter of serious concern. Mozambique commended the reaffirmation by President dos Santos of the validity of the Lusaka Protocol and his willingness to forgive Mr. Savimbi if he renounced war.
He said the conflict in Angola not only impeded the attainment of sustainable development in that country, but also in the whole southern African region. The leaders of the SADC were fully aware that only with the end of the region’s conflicts could a climate favourable to more investment and economic growth prevail, leading ultimately to balanced and sustainable development for all countries in southern Africa.
LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said that important milestones in the Angola situation had not yet been translated into meaningful changes for internally displaced Angolans. The Government faced the extremely difficult challenge of providing the basic needs of a growing mass of displaced people and of fighting off a guerrilla war aimed at the civilian population. The international community must strictly implement sanctions against UNITA and assist the Angolan people while working closely with the Government.
He said the strategies needed to tackle such humanitarian problems as those afflicting Angola should focus on conflict prevention, peace-making, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building, while taking into account the multiple dimensions of conflicts. The mandates of the humanitarian and development agencies involved could differ, but they were intertwined since their goal was the full enjoyment of basic human rights.
Civil society and the Church in Angola were also organizing, he said. The task of reducing suffering and preparing for reconstruction was so vast that everybody would have to do more. Every organized group would have to share in efforts to assist local authorities and groups of concerned citizens to uphold the most basic human right -- the right to life.
PHAKISO MOCHOCHOKO (Lesotho) said that the single motivating factor for Mr. Savimbi's continuation of the civil war and refusal to heed numerous Security Council resolutions was greed for power and for Angola’s economic wealth. While the people of that richly endowed country had suffered economically and otherwise over the years, Mr. Savimbi and UNITA had gained by exploiting Angola’s natural resources.
He said it would have been expected that following the adoption of Security Council resolution 1295 (2000) and the introduction of tougher measures to restrict UNITA’s access to international markets for the illegal export of diamonds and importation of fuel and ammunition, the situation in Angola would have changed for the better. But there was little evidence of that.
While there was no doubt that displacements and the threat of landmines had kept farmers from producing crops, thus exacerbating famine and the humanitarian situation, other problems were structural and must be resolved through reforms and longer term development programmes, he said. Now that the Government had regained control of large parts of the country, prospects for the farming community to revive the agricultural industry, particularly the once-vibrant coffee industry, had been enhanced.
It was a matter of concern that preventable diseases like polio were causing death and suffering to an ever-increasing number of people, he said. Efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO) and De Beers to halt the spread of polio would not bear much fruit as long as war forced thousands of people to leave the hinterland for sanctuary in already-crowded cities. Resettlement plans for thousands of displaced people should be put in place at the same time that the immunization campaign was intensified.
Not only was the Angolan economy in turmoil as a result of 30 years of war, he said, but the country had the highest number of landmines and landmine victims. Human rights abuses were rife, as was poverty. While crises in other parts of the world had generated an immediate and generous response from both the public and the media, relatively little attention had been paid to the crisis in Angola, one of the many in Africa.
Mr. GAMBARI said the message from the open meeting was that the Secretary-General, United Nations agencies and the international community must redouble efforts to tighten sanctions against UNITA to complement efforts of the Government of Angola to respond more fully to the needs of the large percentage of Angolans in distress. Support was also needed for civil society, the Government and those who promoted the political settlement of the conflict in Angola. The goal was to end all fighting in Angola as soon as possible. The participation of Minister Malungo in the Council deliberations signalled the intent of Angola to work with the Secretariat to attain durable peace.
He stated that in response to a request from the Government of Angola, the UNHCR had decided to expand its existing operation in Angola, which provided assistance to 13,000 refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to include protection and humanitarian assistance to some 300,000 internally displaced persons and returnees in three provinces. In addition, the UNHCR would work with the United Nations and non-governmental organizations in setting national standards on protection and human rights issues for those persons. The UNHCR needed more than $8 million to conduct its work for the rest of the year and some $12 million for 2001.
He said that in the past few weeks, UNITA had again made threats to humanitarian workers, an act that should be strongly condemned. The international community should continue its support to alleviate the situation of displaced persons and to continue the same level of food aid until April 2001. Support was also needed for seeds and tools to boost the next agricultural campaign. Also, he would soon be visiting the region to determine the effects of the spillover of the war on Zambia and Namibia.
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