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The renewed civil war in Angola raises the threat of widespread malnutrition

After the collapse of the peace process, civil war in Angola between government forces and UNITA rebels resumed in full force last December, displacing more than a million people from their homes.

After nearly 25 years of war, the total number of internally displaced people in Angola now stands at 1.7 million. Most of these people are farm families who have fled the countryside to seek safety in coastal cities and provincial capitals. In the central provinces of Bie, northern Huambo, Malange, eastern Kuanza Sul, northeastern Moxico and northern Huila have been the most affected. The capital cities of these provinces, swollen by waves of displaced farm families, are becoming increasingly isolated as many roads have been closed due to the fighting.

A FAO/WFP Special Report, issued following a Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to the country, indicates that the risk of widespread malnutrition in these areas is high and warns that in the coming months food shortages will only get worse.

The fighting has severely disrupted agricultural production. According to the report, cassava production is down only slightly, but cereal production is down more than ten percent and bean production down more than 20 percent.

The resurgence of violence came after most of the season's planting had been done, but with many farms now abandoned, the harvest is expected to be low. Many of the crops will be looted by soldiers or left to rot in the fields. Those farmers who do manage to harvest their crops will face tremendous difficulties and risks trying to market their produce.

The report estimates that Angola will require approximately 180 000 tonnes of emergency food assistance through April of next year. So far only 56 000 tonnes have been pledged. To keep hundreds of thousands of Angolan families from suffering from malnutrition, an additional 124 000 tonnes of food aid must be found.

21 June 1999

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