Food crisis in the land of orphans

CARLOS LOST his father and all four uncles to the war. "I don't want to go like them. I told myself I would never die like them, in this stupid war. Never." Carlos, 21, like many young men his age, lives in fear of being rounded up by government police and sent to the front line of Angola's never-ending civil war.

His fears are well founded. Fighting between the Angolan government, led by the former Marxist Popular Movement (MPLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence for Angola (Unita) is getting more widespread. Parliament is debating whether to pass the law banning all boys and men between the age of 18 and 35 from leaving the country.

In addition there are rumours of the rebel group Unita taking boys from families and training them as child-soldiers. Girls as young as 13 have reportedly been kidnapped and abused by the rebels.

Since Angola won independence from Portugal in 1975 the war has claimed hundreds of thousands of civilian lives, displacing many more, and has left a large part of the country's young population orphaned and homeless. Forty-two per cent of Angola's 11 million are now under the age of 15.

Today the cities of Kuito, Huambo and Malanje are under siege. The Humanitarian Assistance Co-ordination Unit (UCAH) estimates the number of displaced people in all three regions has risen from 350,000 in December to 470,000. It was reported that displaced children of Malanje were suffering from serious food shortages and UCAH described the situation as "catastrophic".

According to Gillian Forest of Save the Children Fund (SCF), within the first week of the fighting in December the number of Kuito's orphans in the care of SCF houses more than doubled. The central office in Luanda has collected 350 unaccompanied children from the airport over the last month, mostly from Huambo and Malanje. The last plane to leave Kuito on 15 December reportedly had people hanging on to the wings as it took off.

Aid workers who remain in the combat regions say the situation is dire with high risk of starvation and disease as aid cannot get through. Aid operations remain virtually at a standstill with all flights suspended after two UN aircraft were shot down near Huambo, killing 22 UN personnel.

In this oil- and diamond-rich country, illiteracy rates are estimated to be as high as 60 per cent and the education system is in tatters, barely reaching beyond primary school level.

The streets of Angola's capital, Luanda, are busy with small children scavenging in the garbage bins for food, sometimes carrying even smaller ones on their backs. They hardly look like warriors in waiting, but without a change of direction in the grotesque modern story of modern Angola, that is precisely what many will become.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power