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On the ruins of war in Angola


With the signing of a ceasefire agreement in April 2002, Angola ended a 27-year civil war that killed half a million people and displaced some 4 million. Today, hundreds of people are leaving the bush, where they had taken refuge from the conflict, living on little more than nothing. But for every person who survived Africa's longest-running bush war, there are unknown thousands who did not.

Despite the fragile peace, the country continues to suffer, with half a million Angolans experiencing some degree of starvation and more than 1 million others completely dependent on food aid for survival, according to the United Nations. In addition, about a third of all Angolans have been displaced, losing touch with loved ones.

The needs are immense and have prompted a massive mobilization of humanitarian assistance, made even more urgent by the absence of food aid from the government. Fortunately, the security situation has improved considerably enabling humanitarian organizations to reach areas previously off-limits.

For the Movement, the challenge is huge. At present, it is focusing its efforts on supporting the Angola Red Cross, providing medical assistance and restoring family links. The ICRC - as lead agency - the Federation, the Angola Red Cross and several National Societies are working in a coordinated manner to help the most vulnerable populations.

Jean-François Berger and Jean Milligan

Kuito, Angola. Boys playing football in this city ravaged by war. The governor of Bié province, Amaro Tati, estimates that in Kuito alone 140,000 children have never been to school because of the war

A woman waiting in line to receive food aid distributed by the ICRC. September 2002.

Displaced women returning to Cantào Ngove camp in Huambo province
after receiving food aid. September 2002

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