Information on the activities of National Union for the Total Independance of Angola (UNITA) in Angola and Namibia from 1988 to 1990. Angola government's treatment of suspected UNITA members and current relations between UNITA and the authorities. [AGO4908]

UNITA's operations have been numerous in the past few years, including armed attacks, kidnapping and sabotage [Louyot A. "Angola: SOS Occident" L'Express, 25 September 1987, pp. 18-20.]. Government retaliation was equally severe, mostly through arrests and armed clashes with the rebels [Ibid.].

At the end of 1988, UNITA proposed an immediate cease-fire and direct negotiations with the government ["L'UNITA propose des négociations directes" La Presse, 16 December 1988, p. C8.]. Although a peace agreement between rebels and government forces was signed in December 1988, the combats and widespread civil war violence resumed in January 1989 [Brooke J. "Angola Strife Rages Around Phantom City" The New York Times, 19 January 1989, p.A3.]. Around 19 January 1989, the second most important city of Angola, Huambo, became the target of intense fighting [Bole-Richard M. "L'Angola, meurtri et exsangue..." Le Monde hebdomadaire, 19-25 January 1989, p.2.]. Later in the month, the government proposed an amnesty and an immediate cease-fire, which was followed by an UNITA communiqué stating the rebels' intentions to launch a major offensive across Angola [ Brooke J. "Surge Announced by Angola Rebels" The New York Times, 3 February 1989, p.A9.]. The amnesty still went into effect, and a few UNITA prisoners were released from prison at the beginning of February 1989 ["9 Rebels Walk Out of Prison as Angola's Amnesty Begins" The New York Times, 5 February 1989, p.18.]. UNITA continued its offensive, however, and attacked electricity lines around Luanda, thus creating a major blackout in the capital ["Angola: Luanda privée d'électricité par l'UNITA" Le Monde, 10 February 1989, p.51.].

In mid-March 1989, UNITA's leader, Jonas Savimbi proposed a suspension of military offensives for a 4-month period in order to allow for diplomatic negotiations on civil war to take place ["Angolan Rebels Announce Lull in Offensives" Globe and Mail, 14 March 1989, p.A4.]. In April 1989, however, government troops killed 40 UNITA rebels in the provinces of Benguela, Huambo, Bié and Huila, whereas UNITA fighters killed 5 to 19 Angolan soldiers (the range varies according to UNITA or Angolan Press Agency's estimates) in the Uige and Bié areas ["Rebelles tués en Angola" Le Devoir, 14 April 1989, p.5.].

In early June 1989, UNITA leadership proposed the formation of a "National Unity" government in order to prepare free elections in Angola, to be held in 1991 under the supervision of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity ["Angola: l'Unita propose un gouvernement d'"unité nationale"" Le Devoir, 3 June 1989, p.A5.]. In late June, Jonas Savimbi, subject to increased pressure from his American allies, agreed to a cease-fire and negotiations with the government [Pear R. "Calling Off the Fight for Angola" The New York Times, 25 June 1989, p.E3.]. Peace talks started in Kinshasa on 28 June 1989 and continued all through July ["Angola: après l'entrée en vigueur du cessez-le-feu, les négociations de paix s'annoncent difficiles" Le Monde, 30 June 1989, p.2; "L'Angola et l'UNITA reprennent le dialogue" Le Devoir, 17 July 1989, p.11; De Barrin J. "Angola: les aléas de la réconciliation nationale, difficiles retrouvailles entre "frères ennemis"" Le Monde, 19 July 1989.]. Later that month, UNITA was accused of having shot down a civilian aircraft, but the rebels denied their responsibility in the death of 42 passengers ["Angolan Rebels Down Plane, Kill 42" Globe and Mail, 26 July 1989, p.A5; l'UNITA nie avoir abattu l'Antonov-26" Le Soleil, 26 July 1989, P.A9.].

During the month of August 1989, more than 200 Angolan troops and 300 civilians were killed by UNITA rebels, according to government sources [Noble K.B. "Angola Says Rebels Are Mounting New Attacks, Jeopardizing Pact" The New York Times, 21 August 1989, p.A6.]. Despite agreements between UNITA and the government in summer 1989, widespread fighting resumed in the fall [Louyot A. "Savimbi: a luta continua!" L'Express, 15 September 1989.]. The situation in the Southeastern provinces deteriorated to such an extend that a major assault against rebel forces was launched by some 10,000 government troops in December 1989 [Smith S. "Angola: offensive gouvernementale contre l'Unita" Libération, 1 February 1990.]. The strategic UNITA stronghold of Mavinga was taken on 2 February 1990 [Smith S. "Angola: prise d'un bastion de l'Unita" Libération, 5 February 1990; "Angola: retour aux armes" Le Point, 5 February 1990.]. A "last chance" conference between the opponents was organized in Kinshasa on 7 February 1990 in order to refrain the bloodshed around Mavinga [Smith S. "Escalade militaire en Angola" Libération, 7 February 1990.].

23 October 1989


Government's attitude towards nationals returning home after having left their country illegally.

IRB Documentation Centre, Ottawa

national law / nationals / flight / unlawful departure / durable solutions / voluntary repatriation / Angola

Despite strict regulations on travel, Angolan refugees seeking refuge in other countries are not deprived of their nationality [Documentation-réfugiées, suppl. au no 1, "L'Angola", (Paris : Centre interassociatif francophone d'information et de documentation sur le droit d'asile et de réfugié, 12-15 mai 1987), p. 5 (attached).] The Angolan government is not reported as exerting reprisals against nationals who return home on a voluntary basis. The government has enacted legislation granting amnesty to those directly or indirectly involved in violence or subversion directed against the current government. [Documentation-réfugiés, supp. au no 61, "L'Angola, mise à jour", 5-14 janvier 1989, p. 2. ]

During the last ten years, a few thousand Angolan nationals have returned from Zaïre and hundreds have returned from Zambia. [Documentation-réfugiés, Supplément au no 1, "L'Angola", 12-25 mai 1987, p. 1.] In 1989, a total of 400 out of 22,500 refugees were voluntarily repatriated from Zaïre under the auspices of the UN High Commissionner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a further 2,500 are schedules to be repatriated during a three week operation. ["Refugees in Zaire, Zairians Repatriated"'Foreign Broadcast Information Service, ANGOP [Luanda, in Portuguese], (FBIS-AFR-89-192), 5 october 1989, p. 22.]

The IRBDC has no further corroborating publicly available sources on this subject at this time.