Angola rebels still receiving funds

Rebels in Angola are still receiving supplies from abroad and raising cash through illegal diamond sales, despite U.N. sanctions imposed to help end the country’s protracted civil war, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report Monday.

Sanctions “seem to have contributed to efforts aimed at eroding the military capability of UNITA,” a rebel group that has been fighting the government for more than two decades, Annan said.

 

However, he said, there were “worrying signs” that unidentified planes have been ferrying supplies to the rebels “and that representatives of UNITA continue to raise funds through the illicit sale of diamonds” even though their access to diamond-producing areas has been curtailed, the Associated Press quoted Annan as saying.

 

Annan asked the Security Council to extend the mandate of the U.N. mission in Angola by another six months, saying fighting is still raging despite reported rebel losses and some tentative steps toward peace by the government.

 

“The armed conflict in Angola has continued unabated, leaving much of the country insecure,” Annan said. He said more than 2.8 million people have been driven from their homes since a 1994 U.N.-brokered peace accord collapsed in 1998.

 

The government and UNITA, a Portuguese acronym for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, began fighting after Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975. A 1993 arms and fuel embargo on UNITA was expanded to include diamonds exports after the peace deal fell apart.

 

Annan praised the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for measures he said would enhance peace efforts. Still, the fighting continued, he said, urging UNITA to abandon its insurgency, the AP reported.

 

The armed conflict has taken a disastrous toll on civilians, often victims of “serious and recurring human rights abuses” by UNITA as well as government forces, the report said.

 

U.N. peacekeepers left Angola when the fighting resumed in 1998, and a small U.N. office was set up the next year.