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PRESS BRIEFING ON ANGOLA

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

28 May 1999

Fighting and war in Angola had resulted in 1.6 million displaced people, said Francesco Strippoli, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for that country, in a press briefing today at Headquarters.

He added that 950,000 people had been displaced since hostilities increased last December. Those people were extremely vulnerable, living in a difficult situation, mainly in provincial capitals where the Government could assure some security. They had fled and left everything behind. Food and other basic requirements must be provided and a major airlift operation was currently taking place to reach them.

Mr. Strippoli had previously briefed the Security Council, on 26 May. Following that briefing, members of the Council reiterated their deep concern at the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Angola in a press statement made by Council President Denis Dangue Rewaka (Gabon). The Council members also expressed concern over the dramatic reduction of operational space available to humanitarian agencies throughout the country and said that large parts of the population in need could not be reached.

Mr. Strippoli told correspondents today that humanitarian operators -- those of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, and others -- worked under serious risk to their own security. The operation there must decide every day to strike a balance between risking the lives of operators and saving the lives of people in Angola.

He added that more resources were needed for humanitarian operations. There were other conflicts in the world that were competing for resources, such as that in the Balkans. He did not want to compare the misery of the People of Kosovo, or the people in Sierra Leone, with that of Angolans. As Humanitarian Coordinator in Angola, he needed "to put Angola on the map" of humanitarian priorities. There were 950,000 newly displaced people, people who had lost limbs due to landmines, and children that did not have enough food. Those people could not be forgotten. The situation in Angola required world attention and donor support.

During the question and answer period, a correspondent asked if Mr. Strippoli was enforcing international conventions on the treatment of civilians in times of war, which were mentioned in the Council's press statement of 26 May. Mr. Strippoli responded by saying it was his duty to try to assist all Angolans in need. Right now, operations were able to reach the people in Government-controlled areas. The discussion in the Council on 26 May was a step forward to being able to reach all Angolans in need, wherever they were.

He was asked why Angola was not "on the map". In response, Mr. Strippoli said an appeal was launched in December last year asking for $67 million for humanitarian work in Angola. That figure had been reviewed, and there was a new estimate of $110 million. He met with the donor community yesterday and he made it very clear that "there was no fat attached to that appeal", meaning those funds were needed only for life-saving activities, such as food, medicine and transportation. Angola should not be forgotten by the donor community.

How much of the $110 million had been given by donor countries? a correspondent asked. Mr. Strippoli said that, so far, about $30 million had been received.

Had crises elsewhere in the world pulled the world's attention away from Angola? a correspondent asked. Mr. Strippoli said he believed so, and that was why he needed to ask the press to inform people on the situation there.

Should additional sanctions be imposed on the rebel-controlled areas of Angola, a correspondent asked. Mr. Strippoli said sanctions had been the result of many Security Council resolutions and he hoped they were applied. However, he did not know whether they would or would not help humanitarian work. "We just need resources and we need access", he said.

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