Anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, Angola

Anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, Angola

On 23rd March 2015 HALO Angola partook in a ceremony organised by the Angolan Government to mark the anniversary of the final major assault on the strategic town of Cuito Cuanavale by UNITA and South African forces in 1988.  The assault was successfully defended by Angolan Government forces and Cuban and Soviet military allies.  An annual ceremony is held to commemorate the sacrifices made and successful defence of the town.  

As part of the day’s events senior Angolan Government officials and military veterans were taken to see areas of significance on the battlefield.  This included areas where three South African ‘Olifant’ tanks were halted in the attack and lay stricken.  Flags were raised beside each tank.  As part of demining operations HALO has cleared around two of the tanks, call-signs 52 and 12A, both of which struck dense anti-tank mine-lines east of the town. Tank 52 has previously been visited by South African President Jacob Zuma (in 2008 when he was formerly the head of the ANC), and in August 2013 by Prince Harry, read news story here.

Cuito Cuanavale remains an important and potent symbol for Angolans. But it is also still one of the most mined towns in Africa. To date HALO has cleared more than 27,000 mines, but there are still many more years of clearance remaining if the town and communities around are to become safe.  It is the goal of the Government to rapidly develop Cuito Cuanavale, and indeed the entire Province of Kuando Kubango.  The visiting Ministers and Generals expressed their satisfaction with HALO and for support from international donors, and above all praised the hard and difficult work of the local deminers.