A team of United States relief specialists has just completed a two-week partial survey of Angola's humanitarian needs. Angola is suffering the effects of 25 years of war, and the results are saddening: about 650,000 internal refugees in a country of about 9.5 million people, and perhaps the world's largest per capita population of amputees.
The US team is preparing recommendations for possible relief roles by private US voluntary organizations in dispersing US government emergency aid.
Such aid is currently funneled through the United Nations and the International Red Cross. The US has no diplomatic relations with Angola, for it funds the antigovernment rebels in the civil war. Several influential US legislators have expressed concern that any US relief effort not take sides in the civil strife.
The US survey team visited two government-controlled provinces and found significant humanitarian needs. Two problems stand out, according to Ron Burkardt, a CARE representative on the trip. Security, even in the government-controlled areas, is a serious concern. Land mines and ambushes are not confined to front-line sectors.
Second, operating conditions, even in the capital, are extremely difficult, Mr. Burkardt says. Accommodations and supplies are at a premium. This means it would take a good while to get a relief operation going even after a program is approved.