ROME, 1 July 2002 --In Angola, the number of people in urgent need of food assistance is estimated at 1.4 million, according to a joint report released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

WFP plans to assist 1.24 million people, including internally displaced persons with insufficient or no access to land, the families of UNITA soldiers, the vulnerable population in previously inaccessible areas and refugees returning to Angola. The remaining needy population needs to be supported by other humanitarian agencies.

Of the estimated 4 million people displaced from their homes since 1998, around 2 million have been allocated land and no longer depend on food assistance, according to the report.

The cease-fire agreement signed in April between the UNITA and the Angolan Government revealed the extent of suffering by people trapped in rural areas by the conflict. Large numbers of malnourished people have since made their way to reception and transit centres and up to 500 000 are reported to be in a critical nutritional situation.

Angola was spared the drought which affected much of southern Africa in 2001/02, although rains were late. The 2002 cereal harvest is estimated slightly down on last year at 549 000 tons. Cassava production is estimated at some 5 620 000 tons, 7 percent higher than last year.

Cereal import requirements for 2002/03 are estimated at 725 000 tons, of which 504 000 tons are expected as commercial imports and 221 000 tons as emergency food aid, according to the FAO/WFP report which was released after a joint crop and food supply assessment mission visited Angola from 15 May to 6 June 2002.