Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

UNHCR CDR Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Angola

Publisher UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Author Centre for Documentation and Research
Publication Date 1 October 1994
Cite as UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR CDR Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Angola, 1 October 1994, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a64010.html [accessed 21 December 2014]
Comments This information paper was prepared in the Country Research and Analysis Unit of UNHCR's Centre for Documentation and Research on the basis of publicly available information, analysis and comment, in collaboration with Regional Bureau Responsible for Somalia and the UNHCR Statistical Unit. All sources are cited. This paper is not, and does not, purport to be, fully exhaustive with regard to conditions in the country surveyed, or conclusive as to the merits of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

PREFACE

Angola has been an important source country of refugees and asylum-seekers in the past few years. This paper seeks to define the scope, destination, and causes of their movement.

In the first part, the paper provides a statistical overview of Angolan refugees and asylum-seekers in Western European States, describing current trends in the number and origin of asylum requests as well as the results of their status determination. The data are derived from government statistics made available to UNHCR and are compiled by its Statistical Unit.

The second part of the paper contains information regarding the conditions in the country of origin, which are often invoked by asylum-seekers when submitting their claim for refugee status. The Country Information Unit of the Centre for Documentation and Research (CDR) conducts its research on the basis of publicly available information, analysis and comment, with all sources cited and available in full.

1.   Asylum Seekers in Europe

1.1   Introduction

This Chapter provides a statistical analysis of Angolan refugees and asylum-seekers in Europe. The analysis of national asylum-seeker and asylum adjudication statistics poses a number of challenges.

Firstly, there are no common standards for the recording, compilation and dissemination of these statistics. As a result, their frequency, coverage, and format differ significantly between countries. For example, a number of countries, including Denmark and France, include resettlement arrivals in the asylum statistics which influences both the number of asylum applications and the percentage of positive decisions.

Secondly, it is often not clear who is counted and who is not. Thus, the statistics may refer to adults, principal applicants ("cases"), or all persons.

In some countries, asylum-seekers are not admitted to the normal eligibility procedures because they come from, or have transited through, a country which is considered "safe". Others are returned at the border as undocumented migrants or are denied travel into the country as a result of pre-boarding checks arising from carrier sanctions. It is in most cases unclear whether asylum-seekers who are denied access to status determination procedures on these and similar grounds are included in the asylum statistics.

As countries report with a varying pace, the 1994 data have been made comparable with 1993 by using average monthly figures. The total cumulative number of asylum-seekers since 1 January 1994 has been divided by the number of months for which the data were reported. Through extrapolation, an estimate for the year 1994 can be obtained. However, as the 1994 statistics from a few countries had not been received at the time this report was prepared, the observations made for 1994 are tentative.

With regard to refugee status determination statistics, comparing national data becomes an even more daunting task. As refugee status determination procedures are based on national law and practice, the scope for comparison of these statistics is limited. For instance, whereas in Sweden asylum applications from citizens of the Former Yugoslavia are individually screened, some other European countries grant these persons temporary protection on a group basis. As a result, ex-Yugoslavs, one of the largest groups of asylum seekers in the last few years, are included in the Swedish asylum and adjudication statistics, but are mostly excluded from the statistics of other countries.

Recognition rates have been calculated by dividing the number of Convention status recognitions ("Accepted") by the total of Convention status recognitions and negative decisions ("Rejections"). Humanitarian and comparable statuses have been grouped together under one heading ("Allowed to stay").

1.2   Overall Trends in Asylum Applications

During 1987-1993, the total number of asylum-seekers in Europe increased from 179,000 to 549,000, while a peak was reached in 1992 when 684,000 persons applied for asylum (see Table 1). During 1994 to date, the number of asylum-seekers has been some 40 per cent lower than in 1993: the average monthly number of asylum-seekers during 1994 currently stands at some 26,300, down from 45,700 during 1993. If the current trend continues until the end of year, the number of asylum-seekers may reach a total of some 316,000 persons in 1994.

As in previous years, Germany has been receiving the largest number of asylum-seekers in Europe during 1994. However, the country's share in the total number of asylum-seekers has fallen sharply since 1992, when it received 64 per cent of all asylum-seekers in Europe (438,000 out of a total of 684,000). Germany's current share, at 41 per cent, is close to that for the period 1988-1991 and significantly lower than in 1993 (59 per cent).

The Netherlands has been receiving the second largest number of asylum-seekers in Europe during 1994. Thus, 17 per cent of all persons seeking asylum in Europe during the year have been hosted by the Netherlands (4,400 out of a total monthly average of 26,300), three times as much as in 1993 (six per cent).

The United Kingdom, France and Sweden have, to date, received between seven and nine per cent of the average monthly number of asylum-seekers during 1994. It should be borne in mind, however, that the figures for the United Kingdom are based on the number of "cases": the number of persons is about 1.5 times higher.

The major changes in the number of asylum applications during 1994 compared to 1993 can be summarized as follows:

Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway and Sweden have experienced a decline in the number of persons seeking asylum to date, which is greater than average (minus 42 per cent);

Austria, France and Spain also experienced a decline in the number of asylum-seekers, but less than the average; and

Italy, and particularly the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, have experienced an increase in the average monthly number of asylum-seekers.

1.3   Overall Trends in Asylum Adjudication

During 1989-1993, some 171,000 asylum-seekers were recognized as refugees under the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (see Table 2). The annual number of Convention recognitions increased from 27,500 during 1989-1990 to 47,000 in 1993. France granted refugee status to the largest number of persons (some 59,000 or 35 per cent of all refugee recognitions in Europe), followed by Germany (50,000 or 29 per cent), and the Netherlands (18,000 or 10 per cent). The other European countries granted Convention status to less than 10,000 refugees each.

During the same period, some 1.4 million asylum applications were rejected in Europe. Of these, some 59 per cent were rejected by Germany, 15 per cent by France, seven per cent by Switzerland and five per cent by Austria and the Netherlands.

Convention refugee status was granted to 11 per cent of all asylum-seekers whose applications were adjudicated in Europe during 1989-1993. While the overall recognition rate of asylum applications was around 15 per cent in 1989, it fell to around ten per cent during 1990-1993 (see Figure 1).

While there were significant differences in recognition rates between the asylum countries, these should be interpreted with care as was noted in the Introduction. Recognition rates during 1989-1993 were higher than average in Belgium (32 per cent), Sweden (29 per cent), France (22 per cent), the Netherlands (20 per cent), Portugal and the United Kingdom (16 per cent) and Norway (12 per cent), while they were lower than average in Italy (eight per cent), Switzerland (seven per cent), Germany and Greece (six per cent), Spain (two per cent) and Finland (one per cent). In Austria, the proportion of positive decisions was around the European average, while for Denmark the number of negative decisions is not available.

Some 183,000 persons were allowed to stay for humanitarian or similar reasons in Europe during 1989-1993. The highest number was admitted by Sweden (82,000 persons or 45 per cent of all persons allowed to stay for these reasons in Europe), followed by the United Kingdom (35,000, or 19 per cent), Switzerland (25,000 or 14 per cent), the Netherlands (15,000 or eight per cent), Norway (six per cent) and Denmark (five per cent).

1.4   Trends in Angolan Asylum Applications

In Europe, the number of asylum-seekers originating from Angola peaked in 1990 (9,700) and 1991 (11,200) (see Table 3). The average monthly number for 1994 (370 asylum-seekers) is almost equal to that of the previous year (380 asylum-seekers) when 4,500 Angolans sought asylum in Europe. Angolan asylum-seekers form only a small portion of the total number of asylum-seekers in Europe: during 1987-1994 they accounted for between zero to two per cent of all asylum applications in Europe (Figure 2»). Only in Portugal do they account for a significant, although decreasing, share in total applications. Thus, in 1987, some 68 per cent of all applications (500) in Portugal were Angolans (340), while in 1993 this percentage had fallen to just over 20 per cent.

The destination countries of Angolan asylum-seekers have changed remarkably. Thus, whereas France received more than 50 per cent of all Angolan asylum-seekers in Europe during 1987-1989, the United Kingdom received half of them in 1991, while 44 per cent of all Angolan applications were lodged in Germany in 1992. During 1993, Germany received most Angolan asylum-seekers in Europe (1,050 or 24 per cent).

When comparing 1993 and 1994, Angolan asylum applications decreased by more than 50 per cent in Belgium and by almost 50 per cent in Germany, while they more than doubled in the Netherlands and Switzerland. The Netherlands is currently receiving most of the Angolan claims (an average of 110 claims a month, or 30 per cent), followed by Switzerland (90 claims, or 24 per cent).

1.5   Adjudication of Angolan Asylum Applications

Of the 820 Angolans who were recognized as refugees in Europe during 1991-1993, some 620, or 76 per cent, were accepted as refugees by France (see Table 4).

During 1989-1993, some 1,200 Angolans were granted refugee status in Europe, almost 400 of whom were accepted in 1991. In total, some 27,000 Angolan requests for asylum were rejected, resulting in a recognition rate of around four per cent (see Table 5). During the same period, some 230 Angolans were allowed to stay for humanitarian or similar reasons in Europe.

2.   The Internal Situation in Angola

2.1   Recent Developments

Throughout 1993 and the first part of 1994 the civil war in Angola continued despite efforts by the United Nations to mediate between the two parties to the conflict - the government of the ruling MPLA (Movimento Popular para a Libertaçao de Angola) and the UNITA (Uniao Nacional para la Independencia Total de Angola). Renewed fighting commenced in October 1992 after UNITA failed to recognize the results of general elections in Angola, and degenerated into what some observers described as "the world's worst conflict today" (The Economist, 27 November 1993). According to UN estimates, up to 1,000 people have been dying daily in Angola, and at least 100,000 people have perished since the fighting resumed in 1992 (Africa Report, January/February 1994, 15). Amnesty International adds that "hundreds of people have been singled out for their support of the opposing side and killed in cold blood. Man-hunt and clean-out are the terms used in Angola to describe these systematic killings. Both the government and UNITA have shown callous disregard for the rights of life" (August 1993). Human Rights Watch/Africa conducted a mission to Angola in May-June 1994 and recorded widespread violations of international laws of war (Africa Watch, July 1994, 4). During 1993 Angola was referred to as 'the forgotten war', "until people realized that Kuito [sometimes spelled Cuito or Quito, capital of Bie province] was probably even worse than Sarajevo" (West Africa, 24-30 January 1994). Africa Report described the situation in the city of Kuito in January 1994 as a "graveyard", with "conservative estimates of casualties running to a minimum 18,000 (and some as high as 30,000)" (Africa Report, January/February 1994).

Over the past 18 years the human costs of the war to the country have been enormous. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, during this period hundreds of thousands have been killed in the fighting and many more have died from malnutrition and diseases made more dangerous by the breakdown in health, water and sanitation services and the uprooting of a large part of the population. The war has left tens of thousands of orphans, and Angola has the largest number of amputees relative to population size of any country in the world due to indiscriminate planting of land mines (1993, 13).

The conflict has resulted in massive population displacement. Hundreds of thousands of Angolans have been displaced for over a year, reports the Economist, "many have been absorbed into communities elsewhere, but others are still living in warehouses and other makeshift shelter. And the dislocation continues" (29 January 1994).

2.2   Peace Negotiations

In December 1993, the government and UNITA made considerable progress at peace negotiations which had commenced in Lusaka, Zambia, in October 1993. Both sides agreed on detailed arrangements for implementing and monitoring a ceasefire (The Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Report 1994, 7). Nevertheless, constant "swings of sentiment about progress at the Lusaka peace talks show[ed] just how fragile the negotiations are" (Africa Confidential, April 1994).

The critical issue, which had led to the collapse of the earlier peace talks in Abidjan in May 1993, of the withdrawal of UNITA forces from the areas it has occupied since the September 1992 elections - was also resolved (Ibid.). The agreement covered the following areas of concern - the demobilization and confinement of UNITA troops, the handing over of UNITA weapons to the United Nations, and the integration of UNITA generals into the Angolan armed forces (West Africa, 20-26 December 1993). In mid-March 1994 the Inter Press Service reported that "UNITA abandon[ed] its hardline stance" (16 March 1994). For a period the participants in the negotiations had failed to reach an accord on questions relating to power-sharing, allocation of government posts and the administrative division of the country (Reuters, 28 March 1994). Other points of disagreement included the status of the radio station of UNITA, the position of 70 deputies in the National Assembly and the national resources under rebel control (West Africa, 7-13 March 1994).

Part of the power-sharing arrangement under the new peace accord concerns the role that UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi will have under the envisaged new arrangements. According to the Financial Times, Jonas Savimbi's best hope is "to carve out a kingdom of his own centered on Huambo. . . But the Luanda government and the outside world, afraid of a de facto partition of Angola, want to avoid such UNITA control of Huambo" (2 September 1994).

Another of the issues at stake was the security of the UNITA defectors in Luanda and elsewhere. The defectors fear they would face "horrible vengeance from UNITA loyalists after a cease-fire" (Africa Confidential, 1 April 1994). Africa Confidential also considered the issue of the security of UNITA supporters as one of the "overarching obstacles" in the Lusaka talks. Another aspect of the negotiations concerns the recent favorable military situation for the government of Angola, insofar as "in about six months, the FAA [government Forças Armadas Angolanas] may be able to drive UNITA out of all its urban bases except Huambo. Few of the military or political officials in the MPLA-led government in Luanda are enthusiastic about a ceasefire before UNITA is driven out of the diamond-producing areas and the FAA have managed to sever UNITA's supply routes from Zaire" (Ibid.). On the other hand, and possibly as a direct consequence of this situation, UNITA may currently be in favour of a peace agreement, as "Savimbi would then have the necessary breathing space to re-equip and prepare the next stage in his military campaign" (Africa Confidential, 18 February 1994). Claims and counter-claims for the responsibility of frustrating the negotiations, or denials that there is actually any impasse at the negotiations, have extended the confusion on the actual state of the peace process to the war front "as the two camps accuse[d] each other of launching attacks on the other" (West Africa, 11-17 April 1994).

As negotiators struggled with the division of government posts under the peace accord, fighting on the ground was threatening to undermine the peace negotiations. Elements within the FAA consider the Lusaka negotiations premature until the FAA can inflict the kind of damage on UNITA necessary to force it to make real concessions (Africa Confidential, 1 July 1994). This has translated into intense military activity by government troops in the Kafunfu area and near Saurimo, the diamond-rich parts of Angolan territory that have provided for the steady flow of UNITA revenues over the past years used to finance its UNITA war effort (Africa Confidential, 18 February 1994). In its operations, the FAA relies on the support of mercenaries from South Africa, who are estimated to number over 500, recruited from among the remains of the infamous South African 32nd battalion which for long was engaged in undermining the current regime in Angola (Le Monde, 7 juillet 1994).

The U.N. Special Representative for Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, has secured the mediation of South African President Nelson Mandela for the continued peace efforts. A fresh round of talks opened in Pretoria on 7 July 1994, with the participation of the presidents of Angola, Mozambique and Zaire. There was guarded optimism after the talks with Angola and Zaire agreeing to resurrect a long defunct security and defense commission and a decision by their leaders to hold a summit. Zaire is the country that is used to supply the UNITA rebels (Reuters, 8 July 1994).

Continued negotiations have finally brought about a breakthrough in talks between the Angolan Government and the UNITA rebel movement. In early September 1994, UNITA appeared to agree to all points proposed by U.N. mediators for a power-sharing arrangement, including consent to the government to appoint the authorities of the strategic central province of Huambo. The U.N. Security Council urged both sides to reach agreement before the current mandate of the 80-member U.N. mission in Angola expires on 30 September, and reiterated its plan to reconsider the U.N. role in this country if a peace accord was not concluded by then (Reuters, 9 September 1994).

The United Nations had earlier threatened UNITA with the imposition of even harsher sanctions on top of a year-old oil and arms embargo if the rebels would not accept the proposed power-sharing package. There appears, however, an even stronger reason that may have persuaded the rebels to concede one of their key demands: recent military successes by the Angolan government have led to a situation where it now controls over 90 per cent of the territory of the country (Reuters, 8 September 1994). Observers believe that if the government continues its military operations against UNITA it may strengthen the resolve of UNITA against cooperation with the government. An unreconciled UNITA guerrilla force would represent a permanent threat to the government (Africa Confidential, 24 September 1994).

Key elements of the peace agreement include the demobilization and disarmament of the military wing of UNITA that will be integrated into a national army. UNITA seeks to also contribute personnel to the police force and take part in the administration of the country at national, provincial and municipal levels (Reuters, 6 October 1994). Under the provisions of the agreement, current President Dos Santos will remain in office, and there is speculation that UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi will be offered the post of vice-president (Reuters, 16 September 1994). It was also reported that UNITA has received guarantees on the security of its leaders (Reuters, 6 October 1994). As well as the human cost, the "economic fallout of the war pushed annual accumulated inflation to more than 800 per cent in August, according to latest figures" (Ibid.).

3.   Human Rights Situation

3.1   General

Reports of human rights abuses by both sides in the Angolan conflict increased as the combat intensified during 1993. Civilians increasingly became victims of calculated violence. Amnesty International stated in August 1993 that "the human rights situation in Angola now is far worse than it was before President dos Santos and UNITA leader Savimbi signed the May 1991 Peace Accords for Angola. . . . Each side accuses the other of massive human rights abuses. Sadly, both are right" (August 1993, 2). The U.S. Department of State concurred in its annual report on human rights practices for 1993:

Human rights in Angola deteriorated in 1993 in the face of heightened civil war brutalities and the absence of government and UNITA actions to curb egregious violations of humanitarian law. Media, eyewitness, and international community reports indicated that UNITA forces, government military, and internal security forces flagrantly disregarded fundamental humanitarian values in their treatment of unarmed civilians, including women, children and the elderly, and their impediments to delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in dire need (Country Reports, 1994).

Information from the central and northern provinces indicated that both sides have engaged in killings and intimidation of civilians, especially if they were not from the home ethnic groups. These tactics have caused massive displacement, especially out of UNITA-held areas, and have encouraged ethnic divisions (Human Rights Watch, 1993, 10). A March 1993 article in the International Herald Tribune provided accounts of the situation in Angola under the headline "In Unseen Angola War, Ethnic Cleansing Africa-Style" (24 March 1993). Each side blames the other for these practices. UNITA maintains that after the 1992 elections 'a large number of Savimbi's supporters . . . were brutally eliminated in a government-sanctioned campaign of 'limpeza' ('cleansing'), led by the specially created emergency anti-riot police ('Ninjas') in Luanda and a number of provincial cities" (West Africa, 31 January - 6 February 1994). According to the U.S. Department of State "the media published credible allegations of UNITA 'ethnic cleansing' in Uige Province bordering Zaire. There were substantiated reports of government reprisals against Zairians resident in Luanda suburbs, as well as 'cleansing' during military operations" (Country Reports, 1994). The result of all these actions for the country has been termed "catastrophic" (Africa Report, January/February 1994, 14).

3.2   National and International Legal Framework

Angola is governed by a constitution promulgated in November 1975. It was amended several times (most recently in August 1992, when the word "People's" was removed from the official name of the country). The constitution stipulates that the State shall respect and protect the human person and human dignity with all citizens equal before the law. The constitution also guarantees freedom of expression, of assembly, of demonstration, of association, of all other forms of expression. At the same time, groupings whose aims and activities are contrary to the constitutional order and penal laws, or that, even indirectly, pursue political objectives through organizations of a military, paramilitary or militarized nature shall be forbidden (Africa South of the Sahara 1994, 1993, 145).

Angola ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in October 1990.

The judicial system of Angola has been described by the U.S. Department of State in the following terms:

In October 1991, the Code for Penal Process was amended to bring Angola's judicial system in line with international norms; it guarantees a public trial, establishes a system of bail, and recognizes the accused's right to counsel and to testify.

The court system is comprised of municipal and provincial courts (the latter under the authority of the Ministry of Justice) of original jurisdiction and a Supreme Court at the appellate level. Although the 1992 Law on Constitutional Revision speaks of an independent judiciary, as does the 1991 amended Constitution, the President of the Republic appoints the Supreme Court judges (for life terms), and no National Assembly confirmation is required. Despite legal safeguards provided by law, significant shortcomings in the administration of justice persisted in 1993 and the Interior Ministry frequently did not respect due process of law in its arrest and detention procedures (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993, 1994).

Even though the constitution "provides scope for some fundamental rights and freedoms" they are apparently "restricted by subsidiary legislation to an extent inconsistent with internationally recognized human rights standards" (Amnesty International, August 1992, 12).

Angola has acceded to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (CSR51) and its 1967 Protocol; the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICSCR); the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

3.3   Specific Groups at Risk

Persons known, or suspected, to be members of supporters of either UNITA or the MPLA would be at risk from supporters of the opposite side. This would especially apply to the part of the country under control respectively by government forces and by UNITA. The risk of being persecuted by non-governmental agents appears equally acute. Amnesty International writes in this respect

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of suspected opponents of the government were detained without trial, including prisoners of conscience. Some prisoners "disappeared". A wave of extrajudicial executions by government forces, which started in 1992, continued into 1993 bringing the total killed into the thousands. Gross human rights abuses were also committed by the armed opposition, including hundreds of deliberate and arbitrary killings (1994, 57).

This division between supporters of the MPLA and UNITA may also occur on an ethnic basis, especially in light of some speculation that UNITA would want to divide the country along ethnic lines. UNITA has based itself on the Ovimbundu that form 38 per cent of the population, yet some Ovimbundu resent the fact that UNITA brought the war to the Central highlands and there are large numbers of Ovimbundu refugees in the coastal area. The MPLA, while trying to follow a less tribal ethos that UNITA is sometimes perceived by other as an Umbundu movement. The latter account for 23 per cent of the population (Outsider, March 1994; The Economist Intelligence Unit, 1993, 12). Amnesty International last year mentioned that at least in one incident churches of mainly Ovimbundu congregations were singled out (August 1993, 5).

In this respect the U.S. Department of State adds that during 1993 "there were credible allegations that both the Government and UNITA engaged in indiscriminate killing of civilians and summary executions of prisoners of war" (Country Reports, 1994).

The overall human rights situation in the country was the reason for a statement by Amnesty International in its August 1993 report that "any new peace agreement that does not take the legacy of hatred into account and which does not provide adequate mechanisms for human rights protection is doomed for failure" (August 1993, 2).

In July 1994, Human Rights Watch/Africa indicated that Angola's civil war "continues unabated . . . [with] . . . civilians continu[ing] to be the greatest casualty of the conflict . . . [as they] . . . are being indiscriminately killed by non-targeted bombing, or by hidden land mines when they attempt to seek food around the besieged cities" (July 1994, 3). It adds that churches and hospitals are also the targets of indiscriminate shelling by both UNITA and government forces, including air strikes (Ibid.).

3.4   The Situation in Luanda and Other Cities

Luanda - Although direct combat seems to have subsided in Luanda since November 1992, the plight of residents and others who have sought refuge in the capital has been described as dismal. One account of the situation can be found in an article from Africa Report, which quoted the head of the UN relief operation in Angola, Manuel da Silva: Luanda's infrastructure was built to support about 400,000 people, not the 2 million who live there now. The population has swelled by 40 percent in the past year due to the influx of about 600,000 war refugees. But they find little respite in Luanda, where annual inflation has hit 1,300 percent, cholera and measles are epidemic, and the only housing available is in abandoned buildings or squalid shanty towns. The number of severely malnourished in at least two of those neighborhoods is double what it was six months ago (January/February 1994).

Kuito - The plight of the residents of Kuito is said to be even more devastating. Recent reports indicate that survivors in this devastated city in the central highlands "are eating animals, dogs, bark and other things that are unfit for human consumption" (Reuters, 9 September 1994). Its population, once numbering 300,000, has been reduced by half, with tens of thousands dying and thousands fleeing the fighting (Ibid.).

Cabinda - The oil-rich Cabinda province also experienced renewed military actions in 1994. A FAA colonel claimed that the UNITA forces have been "shelling areas [of Cabinda] and carrying out terrorist actions, ambushes and attacks on government positions" from the territory of Zaire (quoted in the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 8 March 1994). Several rebel groups are fighting for the independence of Cabinda. Among these are three principal tendencies that all share the name "Front for the Liberation of Cabinda Enclave (FLEC)", who are distinguished by specific acronyms that define each particular movement (FLEC-FAC, CSC-FLEC, and the renewed FLEC). There are four additional factions active in Cabinda. All of these groups are unable to reach a harmonious position as regards their attitude towards the Angolan government or, for that matter, the UNITA movement (Jeune Afrique, 2 mars 1994). Recent reports of opposition activity in Cabinda province indicate that the leading separatist organization, FLEC-FAC, joined forces with UNITA units in an attempt to put additional pressure on the government (Reuters, 5 September 1994; Africa Confidential, 23 September 1994).

Other cities are said to have "suffered much worse. Relief workers estimate that 15,000 people died in the central city of Huambo as rebels drove out government troops earlier [in 1993]. In the northern city of Malanje, relief workers say there are between 7,000 and 10,000 orphans whose parents died trying to find food for them" (Africa Report, January/February 1994, 15).

A general description of the recent situation in Angolan cities was provided in one publication thus: "the cities along the coast have been flooded by refugees; inland cities are besieged in a manner reminiscent of the Middle Ages, but with heavy artillery and weapons of mass terror" (Outsider, March 1994).

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All sources are cited. This paper is not, and does not, purport to be, fully exhaustive with regard to conditions in the country surveyed, or conclusive as to the merits of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

 

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