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Angola: UNHCR opens office in Uige

Briefing notes

Angola: UNHCR opens office in Uige

13 June 2000

Members of a UNHCR emergency team sent to Angola in late May have now deployed to the field. Over the weekend, five UNHCR international staff opened an office in the town of Uige, in north-western Uige province. Tens of thousands of displaced people in the region are living in deplorable conditions. In the nearby town of Negage, for example, UNHCR staff visited a warehouse sheltering 700 internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as a newly established camp in which 856 IDPs were living. Conditions were extremely poor, lacking even the most basic water and sanitation facilities and medical care. Camps are overcrowded and often located in insecure areas. Women are particularly at risk of sexual assault.

A first consignment of clothing for displaced people in the Uige region has arrived in Luanda is being sent by air to the north. Further supplies, including plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, blankets, jerry cans, soap, and other items are en route from stocks in Copenhagen. Security, logistics and transport are a major concern. Insecurity and the terrible condition of roads means UNHCR staff must fly from Uige to the nearby town of Negage, a distance of only 40 kms, to visit the IDPs in the town. Freedom of movement is severely restricted, with only a 10-km safety zone around Uige and even less in Negage.

UNHCR support staff are also working in Viana, in Luanda Province, near the capital. Later this year, our field operations will be expanded with the re-opening of UNHCR field offices in Mbanza Congo in the Zaire province and Maquella do Zombo in the extreme north of the Uige province. In all, UNHCR hopes to provide help to up to 350,000 people.