Angola looks for lost children

Fabrizio Carboni, deputy head of ICRC, recently unveiled a brochure with 730 photographs of the children still estranged from their families.

According to the ICRC and the national Red Cross, 21 890 people are still waiting to be reunited with their families.

More than 500 000 people were killed in fighting in the former Portuguese colony before a peace agreement was signed in 2002, and an estimated 3,5 million Angolans were driven from their homes.

Reunification efforts are now spearheaded by the government, humanitarian organisations and non-governmental bodies who put out profiles on radio and in posters which are distributed nationwide.

However, tracing is made difficult by the fact that vast swathes of the sprawling country are still inaccessible, while acute poverty ‘ officially standing at 68 percent ‘ is another deterrent.

Meanwhile, the National Children Institute (INAC) is running a workshop on the impact of witchcraft charges against children in Angola, meant for the drafting of a national plan for the protection of children.

The workshop follows a study on the impact of these practices against children in Angola, with a view to the protection of human rights, run by INAC, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Social Welfare Ministry and other institutions that work for children.

According to the study, the charges against children recorded in Angola since late in 1990 are a recent phenomenon without historic records in the traditions of local people.

The phenomenon, the study further states, comes as a result of the transformation of the family structures and of the meaning of family relations and of the multi-linear ties and their connection with child care.

In another development, cholera has spread to a fifteenth province as the death toll reached approached 2 100 and the number of cases exceeded 50 000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

In a statement, WHO said: “The southern province of Kuando Kubango confirmed cholera cases on July 19. Up to now there were 48 cumulative cases and six deaths.”

The WHO said that from February 13 to July 23 this year, a total of 50 768 cumulative cases and 2 089 deaths have been reported in 15 out of the 18 provinces in Angola.

The highest toll since February was recorded in the eastern coastal province of Benguela with 517 deaths, followed by 302 fatalities in Luanda and 244 in the Malange region.

Angola’s epidemic, one of Africa’s worst, was first detected in February. The deadly, but easily treatable water-borne disease broke out in Luanda’s northern slum of Boa Vista and rapidly spread throughout the seaside capital and to other parts of the oil-rich southern African country. The spread of the water-borne disease had been exacerbated by poor sanitation, an acute lack of drinking water and inadequate infrastructure.

Angola’s devastating war that ended in 2002 wreaked havoc on its infrastructure.

WHO said the development of the country was ironically helping the spread of the disease, as people travelled on improved roads.

WHO has reported 1 219 deaths since mid-February ‘ up from 1 156 last week.

August 2006
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