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Three straight years of peace have re-opened Angola to international lending, enabling the government to invest in social services. Three million refugees, primarily women and children, have returned to their homes in Angola since the end of the civil war in 2002. Most have resettled in isolated and heavily damaged provinces, taxing local resources. Unexploded mines left over from the war are a serious threat to safety and prevent agricultural renewal in some parts of the country.
Issues facing children in Angola
- Less than 40 per cent of the country has access to clean water and sanitation, contributing to high rates of under-five mortality.
- Nearly half of under-five children are malnourished.
- HIV/AIDS prevalence rates are low in Angola relative to neighbouring countries in Africa, but so is awareness of how the disease is spread. Even teachers remain largely uninformed.
- Millions of children do not attend school for reasons ranging from poor water and sanitation to inability to pay school fees. Schools are plagued by overcrowded or multi-age classrooms, teacher shortages and inadequate learning materials and infrastructure.
- More than one in 10 children under age 14 have lost one or both parents; 43,000 are separated from their families.
- Nearly a third of children from ages 5 to 14 are working. Child trafficking is an emerging problem.
- An outbreak of the Marburg virus in March 2005 killed more than 300 people (more than half of them children). Outbreaks of polio and measles also diverted resources from routine vaccination programmes, causing overall immunization rates to decline, in some cases significantly.
Activities and results for children
- The Ministry of Health, with UNICEF’s support, responded quickly to the Marburg outbreak, stamping it out by November 2005.
- More than 5 million children were vaccinated against polio during four National Immunization Days. UNICEF and its partners also provided vitamin A supplements and de-worming to nearly 2 million children under age five and procured nearly half a million insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria.
- The government has made fighting HIV/AIDS a national priority, setting up agencies to provide counselling and testing and to teach prevention techniques. The nationwide Defend Life, Learn About AIDS campaign trained 9,500 teachers and distributed educational manuals to 600,000 students, informing them about the risks of AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
- UNICEF and its partners improved the water supply for 40,000 people in rural areas.
- The government has adopted a national policy of free birth registration for all newborns and children under age five.
- School enrolment rates increased slightly in 2005.
- UNICEF and its partners trained 20,000 teachers in mine-risk education; the teachers were then able to alert more than 3.5 million schoolchildren about the continuing dangers of mines.