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World Food Program: Angolan Cease-fire Eases Aid Delivery - 2002-05-24

The World Food Program said it is now able to provide assistance to 370,000 additional people in Angola since a ceasefire agreement was reached in April between the government and UNITA rebels. But the WFP has said it does not have enough money to keep the aid flowing.

WFP said the cease-fire agreement between the Angolan government and UNITA rebel movement to end 27 years of conflict has given the agency access to people and places not before possible.

The WFP's Christiane Bertiaume said that prior to the agreement, the food agency reached about one-million people in Angola from time to time - depending on the fighting. She said that WFP was not able to reach the majority of the country and when it could reach remote areas, it often was only by plane.

But now, she said, the number of people WFP is feeding is growing daily. "We have discovered 200,000 more people in need of help. People who are severely suffering from malnutrition. More and more people are coming to centers where WFP has food available for them and these people are in really very bad shape," she said.

Ms. Bertiaume said the largest number of additional people are in Cuemba in central Angola. But WFP is now also providing food aid to some 170,000 families in camps throughout the country.

An agreement reached this week, has committed WFP to provide food to the families of those former rebels who have surrendered their weapons. The Angolan government has agreed to provide food to the former combatants.

Ms. Bertiaume said the greater access to needy people is a big improvement, but she said WFP needs more than $48 million to feed the Angolans. She said the amount of rations has been cut back and stocks will run severely low by next month without additional funds.

The United Nations' top advisor on Angola said earlier this week that peace efforts in Angola could be de-stabilized if a humanitarian crisis takes place in the country. He said the United States, Russia, and Portugal - the three countries that sponsored an earlier peace accord - are trying to accelerate the delivery of food and medicine.