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Angola: Whether members of the Umbundu (Ovimbundu) tribe are perceived to be supporters of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 18 October 2000
Citation / Document Symbol AGO35338.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Angola: Whether members of the Umbundu (Ovimbundu) tribe are perceived to be supporters of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), 18 October 2000, AGO35338.E, available at: [accessed 27 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.

In addition to information on the Umbundu tribe and their support for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), contained in AGO25430.E of 31 October 1996, the Political Handbook of the World 1998 also states that Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, draws strength from the support of his Ovimbundu ethnic group ( 1998, 30). UNITA, which began to fight for independence from Portugal in 1975 UNITA controls a large part of Huambo, a predominantly Ovimbundu area (HRW 1994, 91). However, under UNITA control some of its supporters were targeted for harassment and death under the pretext of being supporters of the ruling MPLA (ibid., 91-92).

UNITA is believed to have a force of about 60,000 men (APA 4 July 2000; ARB June 1999, 13549), and it claims to control about 70 per cent of Angola (ARB June 1999, 13549). Other than the region of Huambo, UNITA forces operate in the northern regions of Uige, Cuanca Norte, Malanje and Zaire Provinces, in the eastern region particularly in the regions of Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul and Moxico Provinces, as well as in the southern region (ibid.).

UNITA continued to be active in 1999 and at the end of the year, Country Reports 1999 states that "UNITA forces were responsible for killings, disappearances, torture, rape and other abuse. UNITA military units reportedly pillaged rural areas; depopulated large parts of the country, killed traditional leaders, and eliminated all opposition, real or potential " (2000, 2).

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


Africa Research Bulletin: Social, Cultural and Political Series [Oxford]. June 1999. "Angola: Luanda Sombre."

Associated Press (AP). 4 July 2000. "Britain Backs Angolan Government's War Effort Against Rebels." (NEXIS)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 2000. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Office Printing Press.

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 1994. Angola: Arms Trade and Violations of the Laws of War sine the 1992 Elections. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Political Handbook of the World 1998. 1998. Edited by Arthur S. Banks. Binghamton, NY: CSA Publications.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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