Twelve World Vision staff members remain missing after a rebel attack in the northern Angolan city of Golungo Alto forced more than 2,000 people to flee 27 miles on foot to a nearby town.

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (unita) captured Golungo Alto in an attack that began at 3:00 a.m. Monday, May 21. Hundreds of people seeking refuge have made the trek to the town of Ndalatando in the Kwanza Norte province, about 125 miles east of Luanda, Angola's capital.

While World Vision reported 16 people missing yesterday, spokesperson Sheryl Watkins said that four of the relief and development agency's members had been found in Ndalatando. Two sustained serious injuries. "The only reason we've heard from [them] is because they've made their way to the release center where World Vision is distributing goods to the displaced people," Watkins said.

World Vision says that the remaining missing people possibly could have found refuge with family members or friends who are still in Golungo Alto. "We're very worried," Watkins said, noting that communication was cut with the town of 60,000 people after the attack. In Luanda, Anne Mesopir, World Vision's director of ministries in Angola, has been communicating with people in Ndalatando via radio for the past two days.

The 12 people who remain missing—all native Angolans who work with World Vision—are a part of a 20-member team stationed in Golungo Alto. A large Christian humanitarian organization based in Federal Way, Washington state, World Vision has 100 representatives stationed throughout the southern African country. The group has operated in Angola since 1989.

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.

In Ndalatando today, World Vision has continued food distribution to refugees from Golungo Alto. "Among the 2,500 displaced people are 500 children who have been separated from their parents," Watkins said. "That's a concern of ours. At some point, someone's going to have to get them back together with their parents."

Related Elsewhere

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.