Angola: Arms Trade and Violations of the Laws of War since the 1992 Elections

Angola’s “forgotten war,” fueled by a steady supply of weapons to both sides, has claimed an estimated 100,000 civilian lives since the conflict resumed following the September 1992 elections. The government and the UNITA rebels are responsible for an appalling range of violations of the laws of war. Angolan government forces have engaged in indiscriminate aerial bombardments, torture, disappearances, summary executions, looting, and recruitment of child soldiers. Government forces have tortured and killed thousands of civilians suspected of being UNITA supporters. Thousands more civilians have been killed or injured in the indiscriminate bombing of population centers in UNITA zones. UNITA forces have engaged in indiscriminate shelling, long-term sieges that starve civilians, summary executions, torture, mutilation of the dead, hostage-taking, and attacks on international relief operations. An estimated 20-30,000 people died in UNITA's siege of Kuito and 10,000 in the siege of Huambo, as UNITA rained 1,000 shells per day on both cities.  The government of Angola is the largest arms purchaser in sub-Saharan Africa, mortgaging its future oil production to finance an estimated $3.5 billion worth of weapons imports in 1993 and 1994 from Russia, Brazil, North Korea, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. UNITA is also buying large amounts of weaponry from both private arms dealers and foreign governments, including South Africa, Zaire and Namibia.

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