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Humanitarian Update - Uganda Volume II, Issue 2

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I. Karamoja food security deteriorating
Cross-border raids result in over 75 dead

As predicted, food security continues to deteriorate in Karamoja. It is expected to continue to worsen until July-August when the next harvest is due. Moroto District is reporting that nearly 140 persons have died due to hunger in the past two months. Other sources indicate that the situation is very serious and emergency action is needed to prevent a crisis developing in some of the worse struck sub-counties; they note however that most people are still coping and malnutrition is not yet widespread. Prices for food and livestock vary depending on the location: in some areas remaining roughly stable with food available on the market, and in other areas, prices rising. A recent WFP mission to Karamoja, found that close monitoring of the situation is required since the situation, while not yet alarming, could easily deteriorate until the next harvest in August.

A December WFP/NGO assessment identified 215,000 at risk and likely to be in need of some type of food assistance. The Government and District are now requesting food distributions to the entire population of Kotido and Moroto. The Government has dispatched some 10,000 bags of food to the Districts.

WFP is planning to expand its school-feeding programme which currently serves between 70-80,000 school children and will commence an emergency operation shortly for about 150,000 people targeting under fives, the elderly and the most affected sub-counties. In Moroto, Bokora County, LWF has activated its cereal bank programme to assist in stabilising and holding food prices affordable.

FEWS reports that the pasture and water conditions in Kotido and Moroto are unusually poor. Therefore, Karimojong pastoralists have moved their cattle into neighbouring districts such as Lira where District Officials warned Karimojong not to cross into Lira with arms. New reports also indicate that Karimojong have entered Soroti District. Reports from Kitgum indicate that the Karimojong have been blamed for the theft of a number of small animals as well as possibly the murder of some civilians who had taken their cattle.

Insecurity within the Districts remains high. There are continued reports of ambushes on the roads and raids. Cross-border raids between Kenya and Uganda have resulted in at least 75 deaths in the last month. A Turkana raid on 15 January reportedly killed 5 Ik. The New Vision article (22 Jan 2000) reports that some 200 Ik have been displaced to Kaabong Town by over 2,000 Turkana in search of water and grazing. A three-day battle (31 Jan - 2 Feb) pitting the Turkana and Toposa against the Dodoth from in Kapedo Sub-county, Kotido is reported to have left 54 dead. In an earlier raid along the Moroto-Kenyan border, 24-25 January, Matheniko and Pian warriors raided Pokot. Kenyan news sources claimed the Pokots were Kenyan Pokots recently crossed into Uganda in search of pasture. News reports put the number of dead variously between 14 and 100.

II. ADF attacks continue

Relief efforts halted except food deliveries

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) substantially increased attacks in mid-December 1999 and these attacks have continued without abatement for the past two months in Bundibugyo and Kabarole Districts. President Museveni is currently in the Rwenzori Region leading operations against the rebels. Even with the President in the area, the ADF continues to attack IDP camps. There have been daily attacks, gun battles and/or ambushes occurring in parts of the District during the day and at night. Since the start of the year, there have been 28 separate ADF attacks and ambushes reported in the Monitor and New Vision newspapers. These attacks have left several dozen civilians dead. During his visit, the President is reported to have encouraged people to return to their homes and leave the IDP camps.

The rebels are now making more regular attacks and abduction raids inside the DRC, according to news reports. However, the UPDF claims to have taken control of eleven airstrips across the Congolese border from where the ADF were receiving resupplies. Leaders from the Rwenzori Districts as well as the Provinces of Butalinga and Beni inside the DRC have met recently to try to coordinate efforts at confronting the rebels.

Bundibugyo: The number of displaced in the District may be increasing as WFP reports that the number of persons registered for food in IDP camps is now climbing. Measles is reportedly sweeping through the camps with dozens of deaths reported in the past two months. MSF/F had just commenced a vaccination campaign in December when it was forced to curtail its operations due to insecurity. Sources in Bundibugyo report that Nyahuka IDP camps are now hosting nearly 28,000 displaced persons. This number is straining the gravity fed water system to the limit. Sanitation is an urgent problem as pit latrines and garbage pits are filling. The resupply of essential drugs at some of the Health Clinics and Centres is tenuous. Plastic sheeting is also needed by the IDPs after fire swept through a number of displaced camps in early February and the sheeting distributed almost one year ago begins to deteriorate.

Most relief activities remain suspended due to insecurity. World Harvest Mission has staff in Bundibugyo District and has managed to modestly restock the Nyahuka Health Centre. World Food Programme has resumed deliveries to Bundibugyo as of 25 January. WFP food convoys receive a military escort from Fort Portal, in neighbouring Kabarole district, direct to the IDP camps where distribution immediately takes place. In the first week of resumed operations, i.e. 25-31 January, WFP distributed 216 tons of maize-meal, pulses and oil to 21,785 displaced persons in 10 camps. WFP plans to distribute 800 tons of food commodities per month in the area. The Busaru Airstrip has been reopened in late January after about one month of closure due to security concerns. The roads into Bundibugyo remain passable.

Kasese District reports a working figure of 65,000-70,000 displaced persons of whom roughly half are in IDP camps. The District reports that IDPs not living in camps are facing food insecurity since food relief has only been provided to camp dwellers.

III. LRA presence continue to force displacement

Gulu, Kitgum relief activities on hold

The ubiquitous presence of bands of Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Gulu and Kitgum continues to force residents to seek safety in displaced camps around the Districts and in institutions in Gulu and Kitgum towns. However relief efforts necessary to meet the needs of the displaced remain largely suspended due to insecurity and lack of clearance from the authorities to move outside of town. Little movement has been authorised since the LRA arrived in Uganda just before Christmas 1999. Ambushes, landmines and raids are common. In addition, the Karimojong have reportedly arrived in eastern Kitgum and there have been a few violent incidents between Kitgum residents and Karimojong. The LRA reportedly fear the Karimojong and so stay clear of areas where Karimojong are grazing.

Gulu IDP camps are reportedly now inhabited by as many displaced as at the height of insecurity in 1997-8 with some estimates as high as 350,000 displaced. In Kitgum, not all camps have experienced a complete return of the formerly displaced...some such as Atanga report numbers similar to past years while other areas report that people are trying to stay in their homes.

WFP carried out food distributions in December but has been unable to deliver more food rations since then. WFP attempted to deliver food to Pabbo camp, near Gulu town, but this effort was suspended when the LRA ambushed a vehicle and killed two civilians nearby. Fortunately a good harvest at the end of 1999 means that most IDPs have stores to last them two or three months. Displaced in camps in Agoro and Potika in northern Kitgum however had no harvest in 1999 and are almost completely dependent on relief food. In its first deliveries in weeks, WFP managed to deliver food to Potika this week.

Other relief agencies have similarly been forced to restrict all activities to town. Some relief efforts have been undertaken to meet the needs of displaced seeking shelter in town. IRC has rehabilitated two boreholes at the Kitgum Government Hospital in order to meet increased water demands by night-stayers.

IV. Experts forecast near-normal rainfall for most of Uganda

(for March-May 2000)

The recent regional Climate Outlook Forum held in Arusha in early February has issued consensus guidance as to the climate outlook for March ? May 2000. SW and NE Uganda are likely to experience near normal to below-normal rainfall; SE Uganda is quite likely to receive near-normal rainfall; and NW Uganda is likely to receive above normal to near-normal rainfall. The Climate Forum brings together Meteorological Services from throughout the Region, climate scientists and other experts to come up with a consensus forecast.

V. 20 Child returnees from Sudan

Twenty children, who had been formerly captives of the LRA in Sudan, arrived in Uganda on 28 January and were flown on to Gulu. The returnees are now staying in the Centres run by World Vision and GUSCO in Gulu while they are being treated, families traced and counselled. Most of the returnees are from Gulu (seven) and from Kitgum (eight). Another four returnees are from Arua and one from Lira. Organisations assisting the returnees have not yet been able to trace relatives of five of the returnees. Siblings, parents, relatives and community members have visited the other returnees.

VI. Cholera Update

The only districts still reporting cholera cases as of 16 January were Arua, Kisoro, Kabarole and Kasese. The latest MoH report (16 Jan. 2000) reports that the Eastern Region has reported zero cases for 20 weeks.

A total of 67 cases with 4 deaths have been reported since beginning of 2000 giving a Case Fatality Rate of 5.97%. The 1999 CFR was 4.40% -- 5,179 cases reported with 228 deaths.

VII. Refugee Operations Update

Suspension of supplementary feeding; new NGO partners in camps

Supplementary feeding programmes in all refugee settlements will be closed by 1 April 2000. Based on recent nutritional data, it appears that the nutritional status of most refugees has stabilised and therefore it has been decided to cease supplementary feeding. Continuing problems with malnourishment will be handled in a more community-based manner. The status of therapeutic feeding centres (TFCs) still in operation is being reviewed. In Rhino and Imvepi settlements malnourished persons will be referred to a nearby hospital. Adjumani and Palorinyo Settlements will continue, for now, their TFCs while Achol-pii in Kitgum will be moving towards a referral system.

Refugee settlements in Arua, Kitgum and Hoima have recently experienced a change in implementing NGOs so UNHCR and the Government have new partners responsible for the settlements. IRC has taken responsibility from AVSI for operations at Achol-pii in Kitgum; DED has taken over from Oxfam in Rhino Camp in Arua, and Aktion Afrika Hilfe (AAH) has taken over from AVSI in Kyangwali in Hoima. DED is now operating both in Rhino Camp and Imvepi in Arua District; AAH continues to work also in Palorinya Settlement in Moyo District.

WFP has phased out additional 20,246 Sudanese refugees from food distributions as of January as per the recommendations of the June 1999 JFAM. The Sudanese refugee caseload benefiting from WFP food assistance is now down to 137,222.

VIII. Short notes...

Landmines continue to claim victims: Since end August 1999, the Gulu Regional Orthopaedic Workshop has registered an additional 12 persons with amputated limbs due to landmines. In addition, since that date, the Centre has registered 14 other victims who have lost limbs due to gunshot or other war-related incidents. The summary review provided by AVSI and MoH does not include amputees cared for at the orthopaedic workshop in Lacor Hospital nor those receiving no orthopaedic care.

IX. Resources

African Rights, Northern Uganda, Justice in Conflict, London, UK, January 2000.

Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Uganda Vision 2025, A Strategic Framework for National Development, Summary of the Main Document, Kampala, Uganda, March 1999.

Statement from the Fifth Climate Outlook Forum for the Greater Horn of Africa, March-May 2000 Seasonal Climate Outlook, Arusha, Tanzania, 9-11 February 2000.

ACDI/VOCA, The Financial Landscape of Adjumani and Moyo, Kampala, Uganda, December 1999.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Handbook for Emergencies, Geneva, 1999.

AVSI, Nutritional Survey, Achol-pii Refugee Settlement, Kitgum District, November 1999.

AVSI, 1999 Crop Assessment Achol-pii Refugee Settlement, Kitgum District, 1999.

X. Calendar of Events

Bundibugyo/Kabarole/Kasese Coordination Meeting

Place: Department for Disaster Preparedness, 5th Fl. Conference room
Time: 11 am, 24 February 2000

Regular coordination meeting attended by District officials, MPs, NGOs, UN and IOs.

Seminar on Forced Migration

Place: Seminar Room, Makerere Institute of Social Research
Time: 1600-1800, 27 February 2000

Monthly seminar open to public. February's topic is Asylum Procedures in Uganda: Problems and Pitfalls, by Ms. Pamela Reynell, Director, Refugee Law Project.

Gulu-Kitgum Meeting

Place: To be confirmed (Kampala or Gulu).
Time: 23 March 2000
Regular coordination meeting on Gulu and Kitgum.

XI. Kitgum pushes for awareness of the Amnesty Act

President Museveni signed the Amnesty Bill into law on 17 January 2000. The Amnesty Act is in force for six months from that date but can be extended by the Minister of Internal Affairs. Although the Amnesty Act authorises the creation of a Commission to sensitise the public on the law, promote dialogue and reconciliation, and monitor demobilisation, reintegration and resettlement programmes, the names of persons to be appointed to the Commission have not yet been announced. Some parties are concerned about the sincerity of the Government due to these delays and due to recent public statements by senior Government officials dismissing the Amnesty Act as unlikely to succeed.

A report from Kitgum

In Kitgum however, a Joint Forum for Peace (JFP) has been activated. JFP is representative of several local peace initiatives and a wide cross-section of other local groups including women, youth, religious leaders, elders, and District leaders. The Joint Forum for Peace is conducting rallies at the Sub-County level in order to raise awareness regarding the Amnesty Act. The first rally took place at Kitgum Matidi and five more rallies have been held since then in Aruu County in Atanga, Acholibur, Pajule, Pader and Awere. The turn up was good and the population appeared to appreciate the rallies; in most locations, people openly agreed to try to send messages to the rebels.

At Awere Bolokwera Parish, for example, one elder observed, with real happiness, that it was the first time the Government had come in contact with the people of that area to encourage the rebels to come out. "Indeed I can not tell you from the government side anything about the rebels because I do not know your intention. How can I betray my own son? But now I have understood what Amnesty Act is and I am now ready to inform the rebels about it within thirty minutes after this meeting" he said.

One elderly woman also came out to say: "We always nurse the injured rebels and this should not be misunderstood by the government as providing support for rebel activities, but should be clearly understood that as we provide this kind of service to our sons, we can now also talk to them about the Amnesty Law". One youth stood up and said that: "We, the youth, shall endeavour to distribute these leaflets to the rebels and we can actually do it very well but my only appeal is that the UPDF should not shoot/misunderstand us while performing this wonderful duty".

Apart from the rallies at Sub-counties, JFP is also conducting seminars on Amnesty Act at County headquarters. So far one seminar has successfully been done at Padibe in Lamwo County. The next one will take place today at Pajule in Aruu County.

At the same time another team is very busy developing and distributing peace messages. Messages from the representative of elders, youth, religious leaders have been recorded and sent to Radio Uganda for publicity. Large posters are being printed from Kampala to be placed in strategic places for information sharing with the population as well as the rebels.

XII. Affected Population

Affected Populations 1
District Beneficiary Type 2
31/12/99
Trend
Adjumani Refugees (Su)
IDPs
71,564
10,000
UP
SAME
Apac Abducted children
83
--
Arua Refugees
- Imvepi (Su)
- Rhino Camp (Su,DRC,Br)

12,837
30,820

UP
SAME
Bundibugyo IDPs
Abducted children
100,000
unknown
SAME
Gulu IDPs
Abducted children
300,000
2,717
UP
--
Hoima Refugees (DRC, Su, Ky,Br)
- Kyangwali

5,991

UP
Kabarole Refugees
- Kyaka II (DRC)
IDPs

1,621
20,000

SAME
SAME
Kapchorwa IDPs
5,000
SAME
Kasese IDPs
Abducted children
35,000
unknown
SAME
Kibaale IDPs
12,000
SAME
Kitgum Refugees
- Acholi-pii (Su)
IDPs
Abducted children

23,581
93,000
1,863

UP
SAME
--
Lira Abducted children
141
--
Mbarara Refugees
- Oruchinga (Rw )
- Nakivale (Rw,DRC,other)

4,916
4,691

UP
UP
Masindi Refugees
- Kiryandongo (Su)
IDPs

13,594
46,958

SAME
SAME
Moyo Refugees (Su)
27,640
UP
Urban areas Refugees (mix)
329
UP
Refugees
197,584
UP
IDPs
621,958
UP
Abducted children
4,804
--
Total
824,346
UP
Notes to Table

1 Affected population figures, especially for IDPs and vulnerable, are of variable accuracy due to rapidly changing situation as well as the varying quality of information sources. Inclusion in this list does not necessarily indicate the population is receiving humanitarian assistance.

2 Figures for refugees are from UNHCR and abbrev. are Sudanese (Su), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, (Rw), Somalia (So), Ethiopia (Et), Eritrea (Er), Burundi (Br), Kenyan (Ky). For IDPS, sources of figures are: Bundibugyo (WFP, 1/00); Gulu (WFP estimates, 2/00); Kabarole (District, 12/99); Kapchorwa (WFP/GoU Assessment, 3/99); Kasese (UN, 8/99); Kitgum (WFP estimates 2/00); Masindi (District, 1-3/99), Kibaale (District, 11/99). For abducted children, figures are from Districts via UNICEF (6/99).

The contents of this Update do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations. Sources for the Update include Government, UN, NGOs, donors, IOs and news agencies.

For more information or to contribute to the Humanitarian Update - Uganda, please contact:

UN (OCHA) Humanitarian Coordination Unit
15 A Clement Hill Road
Ruth Towers B6, P.O. Box 7184
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256 (41) 349808/10 - Fax: +256 (41) 349809
Email: OCHA.Kampala@wfp.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.