ANGOLA : 350,000 REFUGEES FLEE AS UNITA AND MPLA INCREASE FIGHTING

IN A WAR WHICH THE WORLD HAS LARGELY FORGOTTEN, MORE AND MORE VICTIMS APPEAR DAILY After a quarter of a century of fighting between themselves, MPLA (Popular Movement for the Freedom of Angola) and UNITA (National Union for the Territorial Integration of Angola) each have 100,000 armed men in the field, along with tanks and aircraft. As the leaders of the two groups grow richer by the day through commissions on armament bought, Angola grows poorer by the minute. Out of a population of 9,000,000, there are at least 100,000 victims of land mines, people (often civilian farmers) who have lost one or two limbs. The cities are full to bursting point as the people flee the countryside, ravaged by the two factions. The hygienic conditions in Luanda are so bad that pilots from TAP, Portuguese Airlines, have to follow special sanitary rules when they stay there:

Do not drink any water which is not from a sealed bottle Seal eyes and mouth with tape before having a shower Do not clean teeth with tap water Do not eat any food which is not from TAP planes

Indeed, the situation in the cities is so bad that refugees even prefer to flee to poor neighbouring countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (170,000 refugees) and Zambia (180,000). Kris Janowski, spokesman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), said that there were a further 50,000 refugees fleeing the fighting in the north of the country. UNITA recently claimed responsibility for the shooting down of the Antonov 26 plane in this area, crewed by Ukranians, whose 40 passengers are now discovered to have been Angolans. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is reported to be one of the richest men in the world. He and his opponent, UNITA leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi, rule over the two fighting factions, filling their bank accounts by the minute with every munition sold to them and with the signing of every contract concerning oil and diamonds while the innocent population starves and flees. The formerly beautiful city of Luanda, pearl of the south Atlantic, is turned into a giant rubbish dump, with maimed children scavenging for rotting food to eat. Oil is, as usual, the excuse for international contracts being signed and blind eyes being turned to a case history of savagery, brutality and criminal mismanagement of a formerly prosperous country.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Lisbon