Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Angola's Food Shortfall Endangers Thousands of Internal Refugees Series: The Displaced: Refugees in Their Own Country. Part 4 of a 4-Part series.Second of Two Articles Appearing Today

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Angola's Food Shortfall Endangers Thousands of Internal Refugees Series: The Displaced: Refugees in Their Own Country. Part 4 of a 4-Part series.Second of Two Articles Appearing Today

Article excerpt

BY noon at the Roman Catholic mission of Munhino, up to 500 people gatherfor a bowl of gruel. Jose Maria Lutande, a thin man lining up for a meal, tellsa typical story.

Mr. Lutande walked to the mission from his village 16 miles away. "We areall suffering from njala (hunger)," he whispers. "Some, who are strong enough,walk to try and find food. Others are climbing trees to get fruit. Sometimesthey fall from the trees and break their arms, but there is no hospital where Icome from."

According to latest figures issued by the United Nations, 96,000 Angolansare in critical condition, and another 685,000 are "at risk." The drought inthis country's southern provinces is in its fourth year.

Nongovernmental agencies believe these figures are conservative. "What weare seeing now is the tip of the iceberg," says Paul Sitnam, field officer forCare Canada in Lubango.

"You find people who are victims of the drought and dislocados (peopledisplaced by war) converging in the same areas," adds Mr. Sitnam. "It isbecoming harder and harder to distinguish between them."

Below-average rainfall through the rainy season, which ended in April,caused crops to shrivel in the ground, the Canadian representative says.

The war fought between the Marxist government and rebels of the UnitedStates-backed National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)complicates the displaced problem and increases hunger.

In response to government attacks near its southeast Jamba headquarters,UNITA has stepped up attacks in the southwest. Almost every village around theCaluquembe district has suffered an attack, says Canadian doctor Stephen Foster,who worked on a nearby mission.

"Rebels have burned out almost any food supplies the peasants had managedto eke out," Dr. Foster notes.

A peasant farmer gathered here at the Munhino mission, Luis Nambere,describes how he had originally come to live in this neighborhood after UNITAbombed his village in Caconda, 170 miles away.

Leaning precariously on a crutch (he was shot in the leg during the attack),Mr. Nambere tells of his fruitless efforts to try to grow crops on landallocated to him when he came here three years ago. …

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