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Angola: Control of the province of Kwanza Sul (Cuanza Sul) during the first quarter of 2000, and accessibility of Luanda from Kwanza Sul

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 23 September 2002
Citation / Document Symbol AGO39377.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Angola: Control of the province of Kwanza Sul (Cuanza Sul) during the first quarter of 2000, and accessibility of Luanda from Kwanza Sul, 23 September 2002, AGO39377.E, available at: [accessed 26 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Kwanza Sul (also spelt Cuanza Sul) is a province located in the central-west area of Angola which has 11 municipalities and 36 counties, and comprises an important aspect of Angolan economy through its contribution of fish, coffee and other agricultural products (Republic of Angola July-Aug. 1998). According to the United States' mission to Angola, Cuanza Sul is among the most war-affected and neediest of Angolan provinces, with some of "the greatest potential for agricultural and community reconstruction and development" (Embassy of the United States n.d.).

Information on the control of Cuanza Sul during the first quarter of 2000 could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Sources could not be found which explicitly state whether the entire province of Cuanza Sul was under the control of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) or under the control of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). For instance, in January 2000, the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Office in Angola (UNOA) stated the following:

Recently, FAA [Angolan Armed Forces] made additional gains in the central highlands, in particular, securing control of Waku-Kungo locality (Cuanza Sul province) which had been under heavy UNITA attack, and claimed to have seized a significant quantity of UNITA military equipment.


UNITA activities have been limited to banditry and attacks by small groups of fugitives from the central highlands. Most areas in Cuanza Sul province and the southern region have also enjoyed a relatively long period of calm. In Cuanza Sul, UNITA's attacks and ambushes have decreased considerably since the FAA offensive started in the central highlands (UNSC 14 Jan. 2000).

One news article stated that "after intense combats, the rebel soldiers had seized the town [of] Calulo, capital of the Libolo Municipality [which is a municipality in Cuanza Sul]" (Xinhua 29 Mar. 2000). The article goes on to state that:

The rebel attack was one of the largest counterattacks launched by the rebels against the towns under the government control since January when the government ended its "Restauro Operation" during which the government troops had recovered most cities and towns occupied by the rebels (ibid.).

A Christian Aid news article stated that "[t]he town of Waco Congo [also in Cuanza Sul] was also bitterly fought over. It has an airport and was a vital supply route for the government. But apart from one week in December 1999, the government managed to hold on to it" (July 2002).

The Spring 2000 edition of the UN & Conflict Monitor stated that "[s]ecurity conditions had reportedly improved in the north-eastern region of the country, while most areas in Cuanza Sul province and the southern region had also undergone a relatively long period of calm."

However, a 2000 report on Angola prepared by the Swiss Peace Foundation indicated that clashes between UNITA and FAA forces had been reported in Cuanza Sul (17 Nov. 2000), but did not state whether any of these clashes took place in the first quarter of 2000. A report by the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) which covered the period of January to February 2000 indicated that there was "ongoing insecurity in Cuanza Sul province" (13 Mar. 2000).

In respect of the accessibility of the capital city of Luanda from the province of Cuanza Sul, the Secretary-General of the UNOA stated that "[r]oad traffic in the traditionally affected Luanda-Sumbe-Lobito stretch is relatively safe" (UNSC 14 Jan. 2000). However, though general, the following information is related.

Christian Aid stated that:

The cease-fire has opened up many areas which were previously inaccessible. ... Access to these areas is hampered by landmines and destroyed bridges. Angola is the world's most heavily landmined country and the evidence is clear in the Catofe camp [a family camp in Cuanza Sul].Scores of young ex-UNITA soldiers have had a leg or a foot blown off, and they hobble about on makeshift crutches (July 2002).

In fact, "much of the countryside and road corridors [are] ridden with unexploded ordnance and landmines of various types" (WFP n.d.). According to the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000,

Landmines are a major impediment to the freedom of movement. UNITA used landmines primarily on roads and trails to disrupt transportation, and to control village populations. Government mining generally was confined to strategic positions around towns for defensive purposes. Estimates of the total number of landmines deployed throughout the country range into the millions. Fear of injury and death from landmines effectively imprisoned and impoverished entire communities. There were at least 100 fatalities due to landmine explosions during the year, and there are over 80,000 survivors of landmine explosions (23 Feb. 2001).

According to a report published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) covering the period of January to June 2000,

Road access remains restricted, with only coastal roads and routes within the security perimeters of major provincial cities useable by humanitarian agencies. Road links between capitals remain insecure in the central and eastern parts of the country. More than 70% of all humanitarian assistance is currently transported by air due to restricted surface routes (17 July 2000).

In its Country Reports 2000, the US Department of State indicated that:

UNITA killed numerous civilians during attacks on civilian traffic on roads in the interior of the country; such attacks were designed to halt transportation, disrupt commerce, isolate populations, and maintain a climate of insecurity. Many such attacks occurred on the Malanje-Luanda road during that year [2000].


... A network of government security checkpoints throughout the country interfered with the right to travel. Such checkpoints serve also as the principal source of income for many of the country's security service personnel. Extortion at checkpoints is routine in the centre of Luanda and pervasive on major commercial routes. Police routinely harassed refugees at checkpoints (23 Feb. 2001).

Human Rights Watch stated in its World Report 2000 that "[f]reedom of movement continued to be denied in all areas controlled by UNITA. A permit for travel even to the next village was demanded by those in command" (2000).

In respect of railways, one report published in August 2000 stated that "only about 20% of the lines are operating on a normal basis. The railroads are running at only 3% of their pre-independence levels. ... The 536-km Luanda railways between Luanda and Malanje is being rehabilitated" (SADC 1 Aug. 2000). Malanje is approximately less than 50 km from the northern provincial border of Cuanza Sul and is the closest city which is linked to Luanda by railway (see attachment) (UN Oct. 1997). Malanje is linked by a road to the city of Mussende in Cuanza Sul (ibid.). The only other cities in Cuanza Sul that are situated on roads that may link them to Luanda without going through Malanje are: Uaco Cungo, Quibala, Gabela, Sumbe, and Porto Amboim (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Christian Aid. July 2002. Judith Melby. "Hunger and Scorched Earth: The Legacy of Angola's Long War." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2002]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 2000. 23 February 2001. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 13 Sept. 2002]

Embassy of the United States of America in Luanda. n.d. "U.S. Mission to Angola." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2002]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2000. Human Rights Watch World Report 2000. [Accessed 13 Sept. 2002]

International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). 13 March 2000. "Angola: Humanitarian Assistance for Enduring Emergencies Appeal No. 01/16/2000 - Situation Report No. 1." [Accessed 16 Sept. 2002]

Republic of Angola Website. July-August 1998. Joaquim A. Dominguez and Afonso Henriques. "A Trip to Kwanza Sul." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2002]

South African Development Community (SADC). 1 August 2000. Trade, Industry and Investment Review. "Angola Railways." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2002]

Swiss Peace Foundation. 17 November 2000. Hussein Solomon. "Angola: A Case Study of Aggression, Avarice and Anguish." [Accessed 16 Sept. 2002]

United Nations (UN). October 1997. Department of Public Information. "Angola." [Accessed 19 Sept. 2002]

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 17 July 2000. "2000 Mid-Term Review of the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Angola." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2002]

United Nations Security Council. 14 January 2000. (S/2000/23). Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Office in Angola. [Accessed 16 Sept. 2002]

UN & Conflict Monitor [London]. Spring 2000. Issue No. 7. "Angola." [Accessed 16 Sept. 2002]

World Food Programme (WFP). n.d. "Angola: Special Operation (SO 5887.02)." [Accessed 16 Sept. 2002]

Xinhua. 29 March 2000. "Angolan Government Troops Defeat Rebels in Calulo." (NEXIS)


United Nations (UN). October 1997. Department of Public Information. "Angola." [Accessed 19 Sept. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential. January to April 2000.

Africa Research Bulletin. January to April 2000.

Africa Transport.


Amnesty International.

Angola Peace Monitor.


United States Agency for International Development.


World News.

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