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by Sarah B. Taylor, MAIC
During the 13th century, Angola’s first
known residents migrated from west Africa. In 1575, imperialism found its
way to this nation through Portuguese colonizers. After World War II,
Angola became an important coffee supplier, and the colonial population grew to over 80,000.
Consequently, clashes began between the Portuguese and the original
inhabitants. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the
National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) and the Capitalist National
Union for the Independence of Angola (UNITA) finally gained independence
in 1975. Except for a brief period during 1991, UNITA has aggressively
rebelled against the established government and both have used and
continue to utilize landmines.
Angola is not known to have ever produced or exported any type of
landmine, yet 76 different types from 22 different countries are littered
throughout the country. Little information is known about the size or
composition of either the government’s or UNITA’s stockpile. During 2001,
the government reduced its use of landmines; however, the Landmine
Monitor Report states that eyewitnesses saw the government lay
landmines at night and then remove them in the morning hours. UNITA
continues to use landmines throughout Angola and northern Namibia. As of
late 2000, 2,610 minefields were counted, but the provinces located along
the Namibian border were excluded due to the ongoing conflict.
High casualty rates are found throughout Angola. In 2000, 840
landmine-related casualties were reported. Of these, 388 people were
killed and 452 were injured by AP and anti-vehicle (AV) landmines and UXO.
Children accounted for 65 percent of those either killed or injured, and
70 percent of the victims were civilians, while 50 percent were
Internationally Displace Peoples (IDPs). Also, the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies claims that one in
every 344 inhabitants of Angola is a mine-related amputee. Additionally,
Angola is a country with limited funds, where few resources are available
for the disabled, and because of the ongoing conflict, it is even harder
to find donors. Consequently, NGOs provide most of the assistance.
Angola’s governmental mine action office, INAROEE, is responsible for
coordinating the majority of the demining, including commercial deminers
and NGOs . Thus far, 517 minefields have been cleared. In 2000, 1,335 AP
mines, 51 AV mines and 75,017 UXO were destroyed. Between 2000 and 2001,
INAROEE was in a severe crisis. Donors were unwilling to provide support
for demining in a country that continues to lay landmines on a regular
basis. In 2001, donors gave $13 million (U.S.) to organizations for
demining in Angola, and the government provided INAROEE with $8 million.
The $8 million went to outstanding bills, and the organizations never
actually used much of the $13 million, except to pay to some ex-INAROEE
In a country plagued by a 28-year internal conflict, politics are often
placed over human rights. Accounts of imprisonment, torture and murder are
common. Also, Angola is the second largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan
Africa, yet it ranks 142 out of 162 countries in the United Nations
Development Program’s latest Human Development Index. The government does
not provide data to the public concerning the uses of its large oil and
diamond revenues. Because of the ongoing conflict and the continual use of
landmines, INAROEE maintains its struggle to secure funding for its
demining program. There is some hope for the future. Recently, UNITA
leader Jonas Savimbi was assassinated, and since his death, the Angolan
government and UNITA have signed a peace agreement ending the civil war
and making UNITA a political party.
Advisor Resident Representative
P.O. Box 910
Major Kanhangulo Street nr. 197