Breaking the Silence: Girls Abducted During Armed Conflict in Angola

Authored by: Vivi Stavrou

Categories: Human Rights, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Migration, National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Angola
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2003
Citation: Stavrou, Vivi. Breaking the Silence: Girls Abducted During Armed Conflict in Angola. Ottawa: Canadian International Development Agency, 2003. Accessed October 21, 2016.

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Nearly three generations of Angolans have been at war for 41 years. Together with the destruction of most of the country’s infrastructure, the social capital of Angola’s communities was damaged during one of the longest wars in Africa, a war that was preceded by 500 years of slavery and colonialization. The war resulted in 500,000 to 1 million war-related deaths; hundreds of thousands of people were directly affected by the armed conflict; there were major internal population displacements of approximately 4.5 million people throughout the country, and approximately 400,000 thousand people fled to neighboring countries as refugees. Throughout this process, people suffered enormous physical and emotional damage, families were separated; communities were repeatedly fragmented and dispersed. The institutional capacity to design and implement projects of collective interest was crippled. The infrastructure to deliver social services such as health and education was largely destroyed. There are an estimated 2-7 million landmines scattered across Angola; the road network is in tatters, and food production remains below minimum levels of food security. The level of vulnerability among the general population in Angola is one of the highest in the world. A greater percentage of Angolan people are at risk of disease and destitution than in virtually any other African country. In January 2004, more than 20 percent of the entire population (4 million) was still displaced and at least 10 percent dependent on external assistance to survive. Of the displaced peoples, 65 percent were under the age of 15, with women and children making up more than 80 percent of the total. Displaced and refugee/returnee women and girls are particularly vulnerable to the effects of violence and poverty. Amongst the most vulnerable in this group, are the girls who were separated from their families during the armed conflict. In this group, the formerly abducted girl soldiers are the most excluded and most vulnerable.