Angolas armed conflict has had a serious impact on its children in a myriad of ways. Not only have the chances of survival and health services drastically deteriorated for children under the age of 5 (see section 2.2.), but children of all ages have been separated from their families, some of whom are living on the streets of urban centres, while others have participated in the armed conflict either voluntarily, through coercion or through force. Some of the major issues affecting children in Angola are:
Child labour: The International Labour Office (ILO) estimated that in the year 2000, 26% of all Angolan children between the ages of 10-14 were economically active (Global March: http://www.globalmarch.org/). Many younger children are also working in the informal sector.
Street Children: Large numbers of separated children live on the streets of urban centres in Angola. In 1998, it was estimated that approximately 5000 children live on the streets of Luanda, a number that will have increased since then (Global March: http://www.globalmarch.org/). Many of these children have fled form rural areas where they and their families were subject to military attacks.
Child soldiers: Both UNITA and the Angolan government have been implicated in the forced recruitment of under-age soldiers (Human Rights Watch: Angolas forgotten fighters: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/angola0403/). Child protection workers estimate that as many as 11,000 children from the two sides may have lived and worked in combat conditions. The HRW report draws attention to the discrimination that operates against these forgotten fighters who have not been included in the demobilisation program that was initiated after the signing of the peace agreement in April 2002. Child combatants have not been provided with the same direct assistance that is being accorded to adult combatants, leaving them doubly vulnerable as they attempt to reintegrate into civilian life.
Child prostitution: The commercial sexual exploitation of children in the country is on the increase. EPCAT notes that many street children earn their living through prostitution and that the numbers of foreign men exploiting Angolan minors are on the rise in the country (EPCAT: http://www.ecpat.net/eng/index.asp). While exact numbers are difficult to obtain, it is estimated that approximately 3000 children under the age of 18 are involved in prostitution for survival in various urban centres around the country in 2003.
Various initiatives are under way to provide assistance to Angolan children. The ICRC is attempting to trace missing children and reunite them with their families (website: http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList74/FE4721940140EFFCC1256D0B003410F1). International and national organisations are implementing health, educational, psychosocial and vocational training projects with children and adolescents, amongst others (UNICEF website: http://www.unicef.org/emerg/southernafrica/index_angola.html).
A serious consequence of the war are the injuries and deaths caused by landmines. Angola has one of the worst land mine problems in the world. The Landmine Monitor Report 2003 ( http://www.icbl.org/lm/2003/angola.html) records that 2,232 minefields have been registered with the national mine action office in Angola, a number that excludes the 660 minefields that have already been cleared since 1995. In addition, the fact that there have been 76 different types of anti-personnel mines from 22 different countries reported in Angola has made the task of de-mining even more difficult.
It is difficult to estimate the overall number of mine victims in Angola. In 2001 alone there were 673 new casualties with 170 people killed (Landmine Monitor Report 2003 ( http://www.icbl.org/lm/2003/angola.html). The US State Department estimates that there are 800 new mine casualties each year in Angola. Of these 26% of the recorded casualties are children under ht the age of 18. Only a small proportion of amputees have been provided with wheelchairs, artificial limbs or given physiotherapy as there are only a few centres in the country that provide such treatment, those operated by foreign relief agencies (OCHA, 2001). Landmines do not only impact the health sector but also affect the economic survival abilities of communities as farmlands become inaccessible. Only an estimated 25 percent of the farmland cultivated in 1975 was being used in 1990; cattle-grazing areas are deserted; and many large farms have been abandoned (Tvedten, 1997). Despite the presence of landmines, many people continued to cultivate their fields, out of desperation and the lack of alternative methods of survival.
Since the signing of the peace agreement in April 2002, war-displaced people are beginning to return to their homes in former battle zones and the issue of de-mining has become even more urgent. (Angola Peace Monitor: http://www.actsa.org/Angola/apm/apm0901.htm). The de-mining efforts have been hampered by a lack of funding and co-ordination amongst the major players in the area. However, positive developments include the ratification of Mine Ban Treaty by the Angolan government in July 2002 and the fact that no new anti-personnel mines have been reported since April 2002 (Land mine Monitor Report 2003: http://www.icbl.org/lm/2003/angola.html).
Diamonds and oil
The history of Angolas diamond mining is a chequered one, with international attention focusing in recent years on illegal trading of conflict diamonds through UNITA-controlled areas such as Lunda Sul and Lunda Norte in the north-east of the country. Illegal diamond digging and diamond smuggling through the DRC, Congo-Brazzaville and Zambia sustained UNITAs war efforts during the third and fourth wars, despite UN sanctions imposed on this trade in 1998 (Amnesty International: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR010112001?open&of=ENG-AGO). A UN sanctions monitoring mechanism was set up to try and halt the flow of cash and arms to UNITA during the final years of the war, by making it illegal to buy diamonds from UNITA or to sell them weapons. Although UNITAs diamond trade was reduced through these sanctions, it never ceased completely and independent observers believe that UNITA continued to benefit from the trade right up to the last months of war (Global Policy: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/angola/2002/1108dia.htm). After the signing of the peace agreement in April 2002, the UN sanctions monitoring committee accused UNITA of retaining cashes of illicit diamonds (Global Policy: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/angola/2002/1122denies.htm). Sanctions were only officially lifted in December 2002 by the UN Security Council who declared UNITA no longer to be a threat to national or regional interests.
The Angolan government subscribed to the global certification scheme to block the sale of illicit diamonds in late 2000. In 2001, the Angolan Deputy Minister of Mining, Antonio Sumbula, admitted that $1 million worth of diamonds were leaving Angola illegally each day. While substantial efforts have been under way to stem the flow of illegal diamonds from Angola since the signing of the peace agreement in 2002, observers have noted that illicit diamond mining has started up again in areas that had lain dormant due to the war, for instance in the Capembe region in Cuando Cubango (Global Policy: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/angola/2002/1108dia.htm). Controlling the diamond trade will continue to prove challenging to the Angolan government. In the meantime, the government is pursuing new diamond mining projects with international mining companies ( O Pensador: http://www.angola.org/news/pensador/april03.pdf).
- Diamonds in conflict: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/diamond/index.htm
During the almost 40 years of conflict in Angola, the only sector of the economy that consistently performed well was the oil sector which was under the control of the Angolan government. It is run by the Ministry of Oil and Energy and the parastatal company SONANGOL, and 80% of the oil production takes place off the coast of Cabinda (see section 1.5.2. above). Angola is currently the second-largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria (Hodges, 2003: http://www.c-r.org/accord/ang/accord15/10.shtml).
The Angolan economy is heavily dependant on oil production. Although the oil sector is a vital source of income, during the war years the earnings were used predominantly for non-productive purposes such as military and food imports and to repay Angolas rising foreign debt (Hodges, 2003). As a percentage of GDP, defence and security expenditure peaked at 26 percent (by far the highest level in the world) in 1999, but then fell back to 7 percent in 2001 and 2002, although this is still very high by international standards. Hodges (2003) notes that it is also worrying that the government is continuing to give high priority to defence and security, which were allocated 32 percent of the budget for 2004. In addition, the strong dependence on this one particular export meant that the Angolan economy was dependent on world oil prices, its revenue rising and falling with external variations in price levels (Hodges, 2003: http://www.c-r.org/accord/ang/accord15/10.shtml).
The Angolan governments financing of its military efforts led to a situation where they raised loans from Swiss and French banks using oil as a collateral, borrowing cash against future exports (Global Policy: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/angola/2003/0226elite.htm). It is unclear to what extent Angolas future oil wealth has already been mortgaged but the Angolan government has declared itself broke and called for an international donor conference in 2003, being unable to fund the post-war reconstruction needs of the country. Angolas foreign debt is estimated to be about 12 billion USD, of which about half is owed to Russian arms manufacturers. Some financial analysts suspect the amount of foreign debt to much higher than this (Global Policy: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/angola/2003/0226elite.htm).
In addition, observers have commented on the missing billions that are suspected to have been siphoned off by the Angolan political elite through corrupt contracting methods providing substantial commissions for key government officials. A report by Global Witness, entitled All the presidents men (website: http://www.globalwitness.org/), accuses top government officials of benefiting financially from the oil sector and calls upon the government as well as on international oil companies to adopt a policy of transparency (see also Human Rights Watch, 2004 http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/angola0104/).
Due to the increase in oil production, government oil revenues, which had been less than $1 billion a year for most of the 1980s, were running at an average of just over $2.5 billion per year during the period 1995-2001 (Hodges, 2003: http://www.c-r.org/accord/ang/accord15/10.shtml). Following major new oil discoveries in deep water off the Angolan coast in the mid-1990s, investments currently underway will more than double oil production in the next few years, to 2.2 billion b/d in 2008. This will take Angola's oil production to about the same level as Nigeria's, transforming Angola into the single largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa by 2008 (Global Policy: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/angola/2003/0226elite.htm).