Human Rights Watch, Edited by Sian Glaessner | 19.08.2003 17:16 | World
On the Angolan Government’s priority resettlement list: not women or children and other vulnerable groups but ex-combatants. "Angola is an oil-rich state with the resources to help its people," said Takirambudde. "There's no excuse for the way they have been suffering. "Angolan law has incorporated international standards on the protection of the displaced, but the government has failed to respect that law in practice. Hundreds have been killed or maimed by landmines as they tried to make their way home across former battlefields.
Many who have made their homes elsewhere since fleeing the war have been forcibly returned to their former homes. Local authorities have used violence and threats of violence to “persuade” internally displaced Angolans to return. One such incident occurred in transit center Cambabe II, in Bengo Province. Local administration and police forces entered the camp in September and October 2002, and burned the internally displaced Angolans' homes and 10 acres of crops. With their homes and crops destroyed, the displaced people had nowhere to go except their home areas, which were not ready to receive them. Most fled immediately, without stopping to gather the animals or possessions that had survived the fire.
Marlene V., 28, told Human Rights Watch that local authorities instructed her family to leave Bengo II and go to Sanza Pombo (their place of origin), even though they wanted to remain at Bengo II. She said:
“I don't have any one there. My mother and father passed away and my children are going to school here [in Negage]. In Sanza Pombo there are no health centers or other services. My husband went there and told me so.”
In Bengo II, there were about 12 families from Sanza Pombo that did not wish to return. Jorge S., 33, told Human Rights Watch their reasons for remaining:
“We have been here since September 1999. Here we have a house and land to work on. `Return' means go to a place where roads don't even go.”
In other cases, displaced people have been prevented from moving where they want to go, in particular to Luanda, the capital city. Helena S., 29, a displaced woman interviewed by Human Rights Watch in U¡ge, where she had been living as a displaced person for years, told us that local authorities had been preventing her from moving on to Luanda, where five of her children and other family members were living. She told a Human Rights Watch researcher:
“I have not seen my mother for seven years. We were separated during the war. I
am from Mbanza Kongo. Here [in Negage] I don't have land. I don't have
anything. I have five children in Luanda and two here with me. I wanted to go
to Luanda where I have family but they told us to wait. I have been waiting
for ten months. I've been waiting [ever] since there was finally peace.”
Human Rights Watch, Edited by Sian Glaessner