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DATE=1/26/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-42439 TITLE=ANGOLA/CONFLICT BYLINE=ALEX BELIDA DATELINE=N'DALATANDO, ANGOLA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE CONFLICT IN ANGOLA IS OFTEN REFERRED TO AS ONE OF AFRICA'S "FORGOTTEN WARS." FIGHTING HAS GONE ON FOR SO MANY YEARS AND SO MANY EFFORTS TO HALT IT HAVE PROVED FUTILE THAT FEW PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF ANGOLA REALLY BOTHER TO PAY MUCH ATTENTION ANY LONGER. V-O-A SOUTHERN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT ALEX BELIDA REPORTS FROM A "FORGOTTEN CITY" IN THIS "FORGOTTEN WAR." TEXT: IN THIS MORE THAN THREE-DECADE-OLD FORGOTTEN WAR, THERE ARE A HOST OF WHAT ARE, ESSENTIALLY, FORGOTTEN CITIES -- PLACES, OUTSIDE OF THE ANGOLAN CAPITAL, THAT NEVER MAKE HEADLINES AND WHOSE RESIDENTS' PLIGHT, GO ALL BUT UNNOTICED. ONE SUCH CITY IS N'DALATANDO, ABOUT 200-KILOMETERS EAST OF LUANDA. IT IS THE GOVERNMENT-HELD CAPITAL OF CUANZA NORTE PROVINCE. TO BE TRUTHFUL, IT IS NOT MUCH OF A CITY. THOUGH SOME BUILDINGS LOOK RENOVATED, MOST STILL SHOW SIGNS OF HEAVY BATTLE DAMAGE FROM EARLIER BOUTS OF ANGOLA'S CIVIL WAR. MANY STRUCTURES REMAIN ROOFLESS. A FEW ARE JUST COLLAPSED PILES OF SHATTERED CONCRETE. BUT PEOPLE STILL LIVE HERE -- ABOUT 100-THOUSAND OF THEM -- AND THEIR NUMBERS HAVE SURGED AS FIGHTING HAS SPREAD IN RECENT WEEKS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT SOLDIERS AND THE UNITA REBELS. MORE THAN 45-THOUSAND ADDITIONAL PEOPLE HAVE SOUGHT SANCTUARY IN N'DALATANDO AFTER FLEEING HOMES IN THE LUSH SURROUNDING COUNTRYSIDE. /// PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE ACTUALITY, FADE UNDER /// ONE OF THEM IS 34-YEAR-OLD SEBASTIAO DOMINGUES. AS UNITA FORCES MOVED INTO THE AREA AROUND HIS HOME (IN BULA ATUMBA) 50-KILOMETERS TO THE NORTH IN DECEMBER, HE FLED WITH HIS WIFE AND FOUR CHILDREN. HE SAYS THEY HAD A GOOD LIFE ON RICH, PRODUCTIVE FARMLAND, BUT NOW ALL THEY OWN HAS BEEN DESTROYED. 36-YEAR-OLD FRANCISCO TOMAS SANTOS AND HIS FAMILY HAD TO ABANDON THEIR FARM NORTH OF N'DALATANDO TO ESCAPE THE FIGHTING AS WELL. HE SAYS IT IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THEY HAVE HAD TO FLEE BECAUSE OF WAR. LOOKING TIRED AND DEJECTED, THE TWO MEN SAY THEY JUST WANT PEACE. BUT ASKED WHEN THE FIGHTING WILL EVER END, MR. DOMINGUES SAYS WITH A SIGH -- ONLY GOD KNOWS. // MORE PORTUGUESE ACTUALITY, FADE UNDER // THEY AND OTHERS LIVE IN A CAMP FOR DISPLACED PERSONS, A COLLECTION OF MUD-WALLED HUTS WITH STRAW ROOFS ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF N'DALATANDO. THEY SAY THEY FEEL SAFE HERE. BUT THERE ARE INDICATIONS THEIR SENSE OF SECURITY IS NOT SHARED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND AID WORKERS. SOME FOREIGN AID WORKERS HAVE BEEN EVACUATED WHILE THOSE THAT REMAIN NO LONGER GO MORE THAN A FEW KILOMETERS OUTSIDE THE CITY LIMITS FOR FEAR OF AMBUSH OR ATTACK. AS FOR THE GOVERNMENT, ITS SECURITY FORCES ARE DIGGING FRESH BUNKERS AND SETTING UP SANDBAGGED MACHINE GUN EMPLACEMENTS ON THE POTHOLED MAIN STREETS IN ANTICIPATION OF AN ASSAULT BY UNITA. THE PRESENCE OF ARMED CIVILIANS AT ROADBLOCKS SUGGESTS AUTHORITIES ARE BOLSTERING THEIR DEFENSES BY ONCE AGAIN PASSING OUT WEAPONS TO MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL POPULATION. THE REBELS HELD N'DALATANDO FOR TWO-YEARS DURING THE LAST PHASE OF ANGOLA'S CIVIL WAR. IT OCCUPIES A STRATEGIC POSITION ON THE ROAD BETWEEN LUANDA AND MALANGE CITY, WHICH IS CURRENTLY UNDER REBEL ATTACK. THOUSANDS OF MALANGE RESIDENTS ARE PASSING THROUGH N'DALATANDO ON RAMSHACKLE TRUCKS AND BUSES, MAKING THEIR WAY TO THE OCEANSIDE ANGOLAN CAPITAL. SIMILAR DISPLACEMENTS HAVE TAKEN PLACE BY THE TENS-OF-THOUSANDS AROUND ANGOLA FOLLOWING THE OUTBREAK LATE LAST YEAR OF RENEWED FIGHTING THAT HAS SHATTERED A U-N BACKED PEACE EFFORT. THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND THE ANGOLAN GOVERNMENT BLAME UNITA FOR THE BREAKDOWN, CHARGING THE REBELS FAILED TO HONOR THEIR COMMITMENTS UNDER A 1994 PEACE AGREEMENT TO DISARM AND DEMOBILIZE. INSTEAD, THEY APPEAR TO HAVE USED THE LAST FOUR-YEARS TO REBUILD THEIR FORCES, IMPORTING NEW TANKS, ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIERS AND LONG-RANGE ARTILLERY. ALL THIS DESPITE INTERNATIONAL SANCTIONS AND THE PRESENCE OF U-N PEACE MONITORS. BUT DIPLOMATS AND ANALYSTS SAY THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM IN ANGOLA REMAINS THE DEEP MISTRUST BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND UNITA -- AND AN ABIDING RIVALRY BETWEEN PRESIDENT JOSE EDUARDO DOS SANTOS AND UNITA LEADER JONAS SAVIMBI. IT IS A NO WIN SITUATION WHICH SOME ANALYSTS THINK MAY ONLY BE RESOLVED WHEN THE TWO MEN DIE. UNTIL THEN, THOUGH, THE REAL LOSERS WILL REMAIN THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE LIKE THOSE LIVING IN FORGOTTEN ANGOLAN CITIES LIKE N'DALATANDO. (SIGNED) NEB/BEL/RAE 26-Jan-99 7:32 AM EST (1232 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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