Many Angolan Battles to Come

Category: World Affairs Topics: Angola, Conflicts And War Views: 823

As if two million refugees were not enough, the vicious Angolan civil war continues to force thousands of Angolans to flee their towns and villages. Late last week, reports spoke of thousands of Angolan women, children and old men seeking shelter in neighboring Namibia and Zambia. Although the directions of where the refugees have headed indicates that the conflict in Angola is moving southward, no one can easily predict when or if the devastating war will cease.

The war first began after Angola gained its independence from Portugal in 1975. The joy of the newly born sovereignty was short-lived when civil war struck, shattering with it millions of people's hope to cultivate the fruits of freedom. Once again, Angolans were on the run. Over 2 million refugees were displaced from their homes. A situation nearly approaching starvation was brought about by the war in many regions of the already impoverished country.

A U.N.-brokered agreement which lasted almost four years collapsed when the fighting resumed in much of the country between government forces and UNITA rebels, bringing with it the suffering and displacement of Angolans.

UNITA, a Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, overran 70 percent of the country when the war continued earlier this year. The situation has now shifting in favor of the government, which has closed in on rebels and their commanders. The Angolan government is closing in on its goal of destroying UNITA, as Zambia announced total denial of aid or shelter to Savimbi, the rebel leader, and his forces.

The situation has certainly escalated. Because the government has the upper hand, this escalation may be received by some as promising. However, winning or losing makes little difference to the stranded Angolan refugees. Thousands of Angolan refugees have crossed the Cubango River, which defines the Angolan-Namibian southern border.

Now the refugees have set up bush camps. Yet no means of survival is available. Very little food has been offered them, as U.N. aid has been dramatically cut in recent months. Some of the refugees are moving to Osire (435 miles southwest) while others are hesitant to take on such an agonizing journey.

Thus far, the current number of displaced Angolans stands at 1.7 million inside Angola, 43,000 in Congo, 32,000 in Zambia and thousands more in Namibia. United Nations aid groups are currently caring for the Angolan refugees at Osire. Yet with thousands for newcomers, Osire is no longer able to provide sufficient help. The camp administration said there was no room for any more refugees, and they are worried about running out of food and medicine in the upcoming weeks.

Aside from the fear of death due to the war, or starving while away from home, an important challenge/question still lingering in the minds of many Angolans is when will the civil war end. While conflicting parties have failed to give peace another chance, both are enthusiastically resorting to war.

The genuine magnitude of the war's devastation will only be felt when the war is over. The Angolan soul is bursting. If victory in the battlefield ends the military strife, what will it take to restore the county's hope for a better future? Humanitarian and aid organizations are quickly pulling out. The country's infrastructure is completely destroyed. Even the children's innocence is being robbed from them while the entire world bears witness. Thousands of Angolan children have been pushed to the battlefield to die or to kill at the war front.

There are indeed many fights awaiting Angolans once the military fight is over. Neither Angolans nor their government can confront the awaiting challenges alone. The world must help, as it should have done a long time ago. If the Angolan government's prediction to win its war against the UNITA rebels is proven correct, a new war must be immediately fought. The country's new struggle includes building the economy and reviving the weary people's broken spirits.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Angola, Conflicts And War
Views: 823

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