- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

The International Crisis Group is an independent, nonprofit, multinational organization based in Belgium that works to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. The following is a summary of its analysis and recommendations regarding Angola, issued last week under the title "Dealing With Savimbi's Ghost."
BRUSSELS Emerging slowly from decades of civil war, Angola stands at a crossroads between a spectacular recovery or further cycles of instability and crisis. The government that won the fighting must now move on a number of fronts with international support to win the peace.
Although there are critical longer-term political and economic issues, several immediate security and humanitarian challenges must be addressed to avoid laying the foundations for a return to conflict. The late rebel leader Jonas Savimbi's ghost, the legacy of a war that killed a million people and uprooted a third of the population, will haunt the country for years. Millions who are either internally displaced or refugees in neighboring countries must be resettled in their areas of origin. About 105,000 fighters of the former rebel organization UNITA each with an average of six civilian dependents must be reintegrated into civilian life on an urgent basis.
The removal of millions of mines laid over the past half-century has to be accelerated.
If the government addresses these challenges responsibly and is helped by the international community, Angola can stabilize. If it ignores or minimizes them, at best banditry and organized crime will intensify insecurity in the provinces. At worst, resentments will build, intersect with remnants of potential organized and armed resistance, and form the nucleus for future instability.
Reintegrating the UNITA rank and file back into civilian life is the first priority. There are reports of their increasing disenchantment, as government promises of support do not materialize and camp conditions remain poor. The related problems security, economic, psychosocial, capacity and political are enormous. How they are met will be a major determinant of whether, five years down the line, the country has succeeded in building peace.
The scope of population flows in Angola has few equals. Approximately 2 million of a displaced population of more than 3 million have been, are, or soon will be on the move, most seeking to go home. These massive movements ensure the continuation of at least a low-grade humanitarian emergency. Indeed, a year after the death of Mr. Savimbi and the de facto end of the war, mortality rates remain at emergency levels. The rainy season, land mines and the regional food crisis limit access for aid agencies and mean the situation could worsen considerably in the several months before the next harvest. Already, aid officials in five provinces have reported acute levels of malnutrition.
Land-mine infestation among the worst encountered in any post-conflict situation worldwide is the biggest challenge to resettlement. Injuries have increased particularly on the Planalto, the central highlands. This is happening as the hungry season is at its height and the rains have reached their peak. Nascent commercial traffic has been inhibited by the incidents, which, if they do not decrease, and especially if it is determined that new mines are being laid, will seriously affect aid agency operations. This would hamper deliveries to current populations which in a number of provinces are highly dependent on food shipments and prevent assessments for post-harvest aid.
In the context of forthcoming democratization efforts, the government needs to recognize that it is in its strategic self-interest to become more responsive and accountable. A good start would be to redirect some of its oil money to social services and public investment to build wider support for its policies. State-building should be understood as a conflict-prevention strategy, and service delivery as a peace-consolidation strategy.

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