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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.
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.