CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Black UNITA rebels of Angola, who won the war against communism only to lose it at the negotiating table, now face a final battle as thousands are at risk of starvation in government demobilization camps.
As WorldNetDaily reported in April, following the assassination of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, his soldiers had laid down their weapons and were considering accepting the Marxist MPLA government’s offer to enter the camps.
In its war against UNITA, which began in 1975, the MPLA was backed by China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, the United Nations, Chevron Oil, the DeBeers Diamond cartel, East Germany, North Korea, Zimbabwe, the ANC and the apartheid mercenary army Executive Outcomes. The fact that UNITA fought on for more than a quarter century against such a wide range of foes shows the determination of their fighters.
Now, the UNITA remnant is facing a new battle.
According to sources inside Angola, the UNITA soldiers and their families face starvation in 35 of these camps, and even MPLA officials are at a loss to comprehend the situation. Over 69,000 UNITA troops have entered these camps with over 200,000 relatives squatting nearby. A United Nations team is going to visit the camps the week of June 9 to check on the situation firsthand. The MPLA has said that over 75 UNITA soldiers have starved to death in the camps.
On May 28, Angola’s Defense Minister Kundi Paihama told the French Press Agency that the MPLA demobilization camps the government set up for UNITA soldiers have taken in many people who have falsely claimed to belong to the rebel group.
“We will make a budget and determine who was in the (UNITA) military and which outfit they belonged to,” the official said. “Many people who merely lived in UNITA-controlled areas have identified themselves as having been rebel soldiers in hopes of preferential treatment by the government.”
The United Nations, along with UNICEF – which is helping not only UNITA child soldiers but adults and their families – and various international aid agencies are calling for food relief to help with this crisis. The MPLA has said that it will integrate over 5,000 UNITA soldiers into their army in the next month. Both UNITA and the MPLA have told UNICEF that they have used thousands of child soldiers during the Angolan civil war.
On April 2, the MPLA pushed an amnesty bill through Angola’s Parliament that gives all UNITA rebel troops amnesty from prosecution. The vote on the bill was unanimous. It covers all who “committed crimes against the security of the Angolan state.”
Sese Calahan, an Angolan soldier who fought with UNITA in the 1990s, traveled to Rundu, Namibia, where he spoke with WorldNetDaily about UNITA’s loss of the war.
“We fought alongside the Afrikaners, who trained us to fight against the communists,” Calahan told WorldNetDaily.
“But in the end, the world turned against us. The British, American and Dutch don’t care about freedom or fighting communism; they only care about Angola’s oil and diamonds.”
Emily de Portugal, an Angolan whose parents were Marxist revolutionaries, told WND that she “deplores the conditions in the camps. I feel sorry for UNITA,” she said. “I got the chance to flee Angola and work in America. Now I have a nice job at a resort. People tell me that I am an attractive and sexy woman. I have it all. I suppose you could say the communists have won and my parents were vindicated, but at what cost?”
Angola faces a massive famine as land mines, many of which were planted by the Soviet Union, have caused uncountable injuries to Angola’s people. Farmers are afraid to plant crops because of the millions of land mines in the ground.
The MPLA, meanwhile, faces another problem, this one dealing with financial corruption.
Angola President Eduardo Dos Santos has been accused of embezzlement concerning a $744 million dollar loan repayment to European sources for help given to fight UNITA during the Angolan civil war. The allegations were reported in the French paper Le Monde. Both France and Switzerland are calling for an investigation of the MPLA’s shady wartime deals in regard to money laundering, arms trafficking and embezzlement.
Over $614 million of the loan money has gone missing, and Dos Santos is accused of pocketing over $40 million of it. MPLA Industry Minister Elisio de Figueiredo also has been accused of embezzlement. The alleged transfer of monies taken by Dos Santos and de Figueiredo was handled by two French intermediaries, Pierre Falcone and Arcadi Gaydamak, via their company’s Geneva bank account. Gaydamak and Falcone are also being investigated for money laundering, and Falcone is suspected of trafficking arms to Angola.