The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) captured Golungo Alto in an attack that began at 3 a.m., May 21. Hundreds of people seeking refuge made the trek to the town of Ndalatando in the Kwanza Norte province, about 125 miles east of Luanda, Angola's capital. Communication was cut after the raid as other World Vision staff members in Luanda tried to radio refugees in Ndaltando to locate their missing team members.
World Vision spokeswoman Sheryl Watkins said two staff members sustained serious injuries in the attack. According to a World Vision press release, Anne Mesopir, World Vision's director of ministries in Angola, said that one of the injured men was an engineer who was evacuated to Luanda last night. The man told Mesopir that he had been interrogated by rebels for nine hours before being released wearing only his underwear, with a Bible and a pen in hand.
While most of the 20 World Vision staff members based in Golungo Alto will remain outside of the city until it is safe to return, two representatives entered the area on May 23 to assess the damage. World Vision's warehouse has reportedly been looted, and at least one vehicle burned.
In Ndalantando, where more than 3,000 refugees remain, World Vision is distributing food. The organization says the refugees are in urgent need of medicine, blankets, and additional supplies. Among the displaced people are 500 children—including 30 infants—who have been separated from their parents. Watkins said this is a top concern for her organization. "At some point, someone's going to have to get them back together with their parents," she told Christianity Today earlier this week.
World Vision has been working to assist displaced people since the group began operating in Angola in 1989. A large Christian humanitarian organization based in Federal Way, Washington, World Vision has 100 representatives stationed throughout the southern African country.
Since gaining independence from Portugal 26 years ago, Angola has been ravaged by civil war. The government and the United Nations have blamed UNITA for the continued conflict that has left almost one million people dead and several million displaced from their homes in the last decade.
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World Vision's press release tells the story from a relief-and-development perspective.
The Associated Press covers the UNITA attack from a political angle.