The Heat Is Online

Angola Suffers Simultaneous Floods, Drought

Natural Disasters Hit Angola
Reuters News Service
, April 12, 2001

LUANDA (Reuters) - Natural disasters are further eroding living conditions for many Angolans whose lives have already been ruined by a decades-old civil war in the south-west African country, media reported on Thursday.

Heavy rains have caused flooding in the southern provinces of Benguela and Namibe, destroying homes and strangling supply routes from the coast, while a drought rages in the southern interior province of Cunene.

Floods have caused at least 20,000 people to lose their homes in floods in the southern province of Namibe and 3,000 more in Benguela, the head of the national welfare agency MINARS told the state newspaper on Thursday.

"The people are totally without clothes, without blankets, without means for surviving," Albino Mulongo told Jornal de Angola. He appealed for international aid. Mulongo said drought was also affecting families in Cunene.

The overflowing Bero River submerged two suburbs of Namibe town, the provincial capital, but water levels had started to recede by Wednesday.

The provincial government would give affected Namibe residents new land to build houses, church-run radio reported on Thursday. Residents were wading across swollen rivers to trek six miles to buy petrol and cooking gas from the state oil company Sonangol, Radio Ecclesia said.

"Washed out bridges in Namibe will mean fuel scarcity in our province," Francisco Ramos da Cruz, the governor of neighboring Huila, told Jornal de Angola on Thursday. He said fuel trucks were already risking unsafe roads and bridges.

Angola has been torn by a 26-year civil war between Luanda and the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. The conflict has killed about a million people and decimated the country's infrastructure.

Government and aid agency figures for the total number of people displaced by the war range from 2.5 million to 3.8 million. The government said 63,000 newly displaced people were registered between January and March.