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Civilians caught in the crossfire

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Since the resumption of the conflict, the civilian population has been constantly harassed by the two warring parties. Accounts from the displaced reveal that their home villages are in extremely unstable areas taken and re-taken successively by the two parties over the past few years. For the inhabitants, this instability is doubly dangerous. On the one hand, the population suffers from frequent confrontations and looting of food reserves in targeted villages. In addition they suffer the reprisals of one or the other of the warring parties who accuse the villagers of collaboration with the enemy.

For these populations, escape is then the only option for survival. We left because of death and famine. We did work but were left with almost nothing: we were farming but everything was always either taken by the government or by Unita. If it wasn't the FAA that came during the day for the batidas, it was Unita that came at night. At some point, we had almost nothing left to eat, so we decided to flee through the bush, hoping to be able to reach Kuito.

Displaced person from Kuito district

With my first wife and our five children we fled our village because of the attacks by Unita, followed by government offensives which became more violent and frequent. One the one hand Unita threatened to massacre the villagers, on the other, the troops threatened us with death if we didn't follow them! The situation became unlivable and that's why, along with 180 other families, we decided to come over to the government side in January 1999. We all left on foot for Kaala

Displaced person from Huambo Province

When I was young, I would flee deep into the mata with all other youngsters to avoid recruitment. Not adults. But Unita would beat the fathers to find out where their sons and daughter were.

Displaced person from Malange Province

If Unita find you cooking, they taste your food and if there is any salt in it they accuse you of being on the government side. My sister was beaten severely only because she had salt at home, that she had bought in Kuito. They beat her with sticks and also whipped her. That was at the very end of February and we decided to leave.

Displaced person from Bié Province

(Note: in the province, salt is only found in the governmental zone of Kuito)