Letters: Crisis in Angola

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The Independent Culture
Crisis in Angola

Sir: Your heart-rending report from the besieged city of Malanje exposed both the scale, but also the human face, of Angola's largely forgotten humanitarian crisis ("Under siege in Angola's saddest city, where children fight for ears of corn", 14 August). Since Unita turned its back on the UN peace process and plunged the country into war again last year, 900,000 people have fled their homes.

The international community has heavy responsibilities in Angola. It is not doing enough to meet them. First, it must step up emergency aid - especially for food and air transport - to meet the growing needs of the hungry in the besieged cities. It is a disgrace that - as you point out - the UN has had to relaunch its emergency appeal for Angola which has been less than half-met by donors. Britain can, and should, commit more.

Second, more must be done to address the war as the root cause of the human tragedy in Angola. Western powers armed and trained Unita - side- by-side with apartheid South Africa - as a pawn in their Cold War strategy, creating a monster they cannot now control.

The UN Security Council turned a blind eye as Unita failed to disarm under the 1994 Lusaka agreement, just as Unita did under the previous peace deal, allowing it to return to war after losing the 1992 elections.

Belatedly the Security Council has committed itself to tougher action against Unita through the important initiative now being spearheaded by Canada's UN Ambassador Robert Fowler - with welcome support from Britain - to make the hitherto ineffectual sanctions against Unita work in practice. Efforts must now be stepped up to see this through.