2 January 2013

Angola: Investment in Social Projects Revives Hopes

Luanda — Continued implementation of social projects designed to improve the living of thousands of beneficiaries of assistance, among children, elderly and disabled persons, coupled with socio-professional reintegration of people who were abroad as refugees, are among the Government deeds, through the Social Welfare Ministry (MINARS) in 2012.

Among the outstanding tasks mentioned by MINARS, stress goes to the intensification of actions for equal opportunity and fight against discrimination, implementation of strategy of training of social service professionals, with a view to ensuring community education actions required to the present context of the country's development.

Other actions of prevention and management of social risks and reinforcement of the families' competences in child and elderly persons care, which are investments that can revive the hopes of the beneficiaries of assistance in the country, were undertaken.

In the period in respect, almost one million people received social aid, particularly those who were in a vulnerable situation, those affected by disasters and accidents, as well those repatriated.

The process of repatriation of refugees allowed the return into the country, for example, from 2003 to 2007, of about 410, 000 citizens who were granted asylum in neighbouring countries, as in the case of the Republics of South Africa and Botswana.

With the end of the operation, on March 27, 2007, for several reasons, one of which the war in the country that lasted for nearly three decades, 146, 814 Angolan citizens chose to remain in countries of asylum as refugees, being 27,073 in Zambia, 111,589 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 5,600 in Namibia and Congo Brazzaville with 2,652.

With the overcoming of the obstacles that prevented the continuation of the operation, the Government of Angola, the countries of asylum and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resumed tripartite meetings designed to find immediate solutions for its resumption.

Restarted in July in Zambia, the operation was set to end in December 2011, but the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees extended it to 30 June 2012, when the refugee status for Angolans living in countries of asylum ceased.

The extension of the process enabled the voluntary, organised and spontaneous return to Angola for several hundred families, coming from countries such as Namibia, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, received by the competent authorities, who provided assistance with basic commodities, plots of land, medical aid, education and other benefits, seeking their immediate social reintegration.

The sector still confronted in the same period with other tasks in the companonnt of assistance to families affected by drought in the south, with highlight to the municipalities of Kwanhama, Namacunde and Ombadja (southern Cunene province), in which more than 200, 000 families were assisted, as well as the "phenomenon of abandonment of children and elderly people on the street," in some of the provinces.

MINARS data indicate that there are in Angola about 17 million inhabitants, and four percent represents the number of elderly people and, unfortunately, due to the disintegration of families because of 30 years of war in the country, people in this age group were relegated to second plan.

In most aberrant cases, during the year 2012, elderly persons and children were inexplicably abandoned and left unattended by close relatives by the doors of State care institutions, which is reprehensible for being contrary to moral and ethical principles. Zaire, Luanda and Benguela are some of the provinces that recorded more such cases.

In Zaire, for example, according to official data, the National Institute of Child controls 78 children in a state of abandonment, of which 61 are at seated at "Frei Zulianello Giorgio" shelter house in M'banza Kongo, 14 at the Catholic Mission of Kinkudo, in Soyo, and three placed under the care of substitute families.

In Benguela, the picture is almost similar, as official figures show the record in the year ended, 126 cases of violence against children, of which we highlight goes to 31 involving custody dispute, 21 food assistance evasion, 12 of child abandonment, three of sexual abuse and eight of paternity denial.

Against this background, in Angola, particularly, the Executive is working towards maintaining operational actions relating to compliance with the 11 commitments to child. In the particular case of the National Council of Children, it continues engaged in promoting the participation of children as actors in the dissemination, implementation and response to these commitments.

The programmes of rural development and poverty reduction and decentralisation of health services are some of the efficient and effective solutions that the Executive has been implementing to lessen the constraints facing children, under the protection of their 11 commitments by 2015.

The abandonment of the elderly, children accused of witchcraft . These charges come in addition to economic and social grievances, anthropological and philosophical motivation, according to psychologist Maria da Encarnação Pimenta, hence repeated calls to the company to continue to implement appropriate social responses to the protection and care of those who are accused of witchcraft and subjected to harassment, neglect and violence.

The situation of economic and social instability and the resulting state of emergency the country was plunged for over nearly three decades did not allow the implementation of comprehensive social policies.

The creation across the country of 51 Care Centres for children separated from their families under direct control of MINARS, running of programmes for family reunification, actions aimed at improving the lives of the elderly and the continuation of the programme of organised and voluntary repatriation of more than 400,000 Angolans refugees are praising initiatives.

However, guaranteeing the protection of children and the elderly raises the need for a contribution of society, particularly with those having more helping the have- nots, enabling their progress and social welfare.

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