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Conflict in Angola

In 1975 Angola declared independence from Portugal. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) became the government.

During the cold war, the MPLA was backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba, while their rivals, the Unita, were backed by the United States and South Africa. Fighting between the two groups broke out and resulted in the death of about 300,000 people.

In 1991, after the collapse of the USSR, a ceasefire agreement was made. The agreement included making Angola a multiparty state and holding United Nations supervised elections. However, when the MLPA won the elections, Unita refused to accept the outcome and in 1992 bitter fighting resumed. Hundreds of thousands of people died in the war.

Another peace accord was signed in 1994 and UN peacekeepers arrived to supervise. When fighting became worse, the peacekeepers were forced to withdraw in 1999. Angola, a country that is wealthy in oil, was left in a state of ruin.

In February 2002, the leader of Unita was killed in a gunfight with government forces. Two months later, the government and Unita rebels signed a ceasefire and peace agreement. Hundreds of thousands of Angolans took to the streets to celebrate.

The 27-year conflict destroyed the country with an estimated 1.5 million lives lost in fighting. Millions of Angolans have been internally displaced and tens of thousands of refugees live in neighbouring countries. Famine is rife in Angola, with an estimated 100,000 Angolans suffering from malnutrition. An estimated 10 million un-detonated landmines still threaten people's lives.