Sudan + 1 more

Uganda Complex Emergency Situation Report #3 (FY 2004)

Note: The last situation report was dated March 18, 2004.


Since 1986, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, has waged an insurgency in northern Uganda, primarily using camps in southern Sudan as a base for attacks on government forces and civilians. According to the United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), LRA attacks have displaced 80 percent of the ethnic Acholi population in Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader districts. LRA tactics to brutalize civilians include murder, looting, burning houses, torture, mutilation, and abduction of children for the purposes of forced conscription, labor, and sexual servitude. Prior to April 2002, northern Uganda enjoyed 18 months of relative stability. However, continued LRA attacks and improved relations between the Governments of Uganda (GOU) and Sudan (GOS), led the GOU to launch 'Operation Iron Fist.' In March 2002, the GOU sent 10,000 Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) troops to disable LRA camps in southern Sudan. LRA forces in turn flooded northern and eastern Uganda, attacking villages, assaulting camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), and exacerbating the humanitarian emergency.

During 2003 and early 2004, the humanitarian situation in northern Uganda deteriorated dramatically as LRA attacks expanded from the northern Acholi Sub-Region to the eastern Langi and Teso sub-regions. Escalating civil conflict and violence, combined with looting and cattle raids by Karamojong pastoralists in eastern Uganda, have resulted in Uganda's worst humanitarian crisis in 18 years. According to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), more than 1.6 million Ugandans have been displaced and live in camps without adequate protection, sanitation facilities, and health care, vulnerable to further LRA attacks and disease. The conflict threatens food security, even in normally productive agricultural areas, and continued insecurity hinders the ability of relief workers to provide humanitarian assistance and deliver relief commodities. As the scale of the conflict widened during 2003, LRA child abductions also increased. The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that the LRA abducted 8,500 Ugandan children in 2003, in addition to the approximately 20,000 children abducted between 1986 and 2003. A significant number of northern Ugandans, particularly children, have become night commuters, traveling each evening from vulnerable rural communities to spend the night in the perceived safety of urban centers.

Numbers at a Glance
Internally Displaced Persons 1,619,807 WFP, March 2004
Refugees in Uganda 230,801 (mostly from Sudan, but also from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda) U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), December 2003
Ugandan Refugees 31,000 (in the DRC and Sudan) UNHCR, January 2004

Total FY 2004 USAID/OFDA Assistance to Uganda: $4,300,404
Total FY 2004 USG Humanitarian Assistance to Uganda: $37,705,034


GOU and Sudanese militia groups attack LRA bases, increasing LRA numbers in northern Uganda. After renewing an agreement with the GOS in early March, the GOU redoubled efforts to pursue LRA forces in Southern Sudan. The renewed protocol, named 'Operation Iron Fist II,' extends until May 31, 2004. Militia groups in southern Sudan, including the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army and the Equatoria Defense Forces, have also begun attacking LRA positions, forcing a retreat to the hills along the Uganda-Sudan border. According to UN OCHA, the majority of LRA forces have now returned to northern Uganda. In addition to being heavily armed, UN OCHA reports that the LRA has increased use of land mines on roads, to prevent UPDF pursuit, and thus increasing risk for local residents and humanitarians traveling along most rural roads.

Smaller LRA attacks increase population displacement. In March and April 2004, LRA forces increased attacks in Pader, Kitgum, Gulu, and Lira districts. Although not on the scale of the February Barlonya killings in which more than 330 civilians were killed, a steady stream of small attacks now achieves the same level of fear and displacement. On March 19, LRA forces attacked the Lira-Palwo camp in Pader District, killing 32 people and abducting up to 100 others. On March 28, LRA forces ambushed a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) convoy at Ogul, north of Kitgum, killing a driver and injuring escorts. Hospitals and humanitarian agencies in every conflict district receive almost daily reports of small numbers of civilians being killed as they venture out of the camps in search of food or tend to their fields.

In March, WFP announced that IDP estimates had risen to 1.6 million, more than triple the number prior to the 2002 launch of 'Operation Iron Fist.' WFP estimates that 985,306 IDPs live in the Acholi Sub-Region, 340,505 in the Teso Sub-Region, and 293,996 in the Langi Sub-Region. These estimates reflect the recent escalation of conflict in the Acholi and Lango sub-regions, previously home to 902,000 and 82,000 IDPs, respectively.

Heightened insecurity has resulted in a surge of night commuters in Gulu, Kitgum, Kalongo, and Lira districts. UN OCHA estimates that nearly 19,000 children commute nightly into Gulu town and 11,000 to Kitgum town, a sharp increase over the past month. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Pader District report that more than 11,000 children seek shelter at Kalongo hospital each night. Girls who commute are especially vulnerable to rape, and the U.N. reports an increase in prostitution as insecurity forces some girls to rade sex for money or food.

LRA attacks refugee camps in West Nile Region. From February to April 2004, LRA forces attacked Sudanese refugee camps in northern Uganda. Since February, UNHCR has reported that 17 of the 25 LRA attacks in Adjumani and Moyo districts were on refugee settlements. LRA attacks in April caused up to 25,000 Sudanese refugees in Adjumani District to flee for safety along the Nile River and 500 to return to Kaju Keji in southern Sudan. Refugees have relocated to existing refugee settlements north of Adjumani town and in northwestern Moyo District where many have relatives. The Department of Refugees, Office of the Prime Minister; WFP; UNHCR; and the U.N. Development Program are registering the displaced refugees and conducting an assessment of food and non-food needs.

Teso Sub-Region remains calm. Since December 2003, Soroti, Katakwi, and Kaberamaido districts in northeastern Uganda's Teso Sub-Region have experienced a relative lull in LRA attacks. According to UN OCHA, security incidents were limited to banditry, including reports of indiscipline by the Arrow Boys, a GOU-backed local militia. As a result of increased security, some residents have begun to access their fields during the day, and, according to the USAID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), some IDPs have begun to return home. The nearly 20,000 IDPs in Kumi District now have returned home to their villages, although insecurity in Lira District has discouraged the return of IDPs from Kaberamaido and Katakwi districts. As improved security has enabled IDPs to access their fields, WFP currently provides food assistance at 50 percent of daily needs. Assuming security in the Teso Sub-Region remains stable, WFP plans to provide 50 percent rations for the next four months, after which IDPs will be given a two-month 100 percent ration as a resettlement package. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has already distributed seeds and tools to 40,000 residents in Katakwi District and plans to provide seeds and tools to returnees for the second planting season in August.

Karamojong raids. On March 18, according to international media reports, Karamojong cattle raiders killed numerous civilians during an attempted raid in Toposa, northeastern Uganda along the Sudan border. A UPDF spokesperson placed the number of dead at 12, but local residents estimated that up to 60 people were killed. During the dry season clans move with their livestock in search of pasture and water, prompting conflicts over limited resources. Karamojong raids are cyclical and typically end with the onset of the rainy season.

GOU increases assistance to local militia groups. Following the perceived success of the Arrow militia group in the Teso Sub-Region, the GOU has begun training and arming similar militias in other conflict-affected districts. According to UN OCHA, the Amuka (Rhino) militia group in Lira and the Frontier Guard in Kitgum are two of the most recent examples.

President Museveni offers to dialogue with the LRA. On April 16, GOU President Yoweri Museveni offered to dialogue with LRA representatives, adding that if they agreed to talks he would order a cease-fire, so that LRA forces could reach assembly points in southern Sudan. The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), a group which supports a negotiated settlement to the northern Ugandan conflict, and the U.N. Secretary General welcomed Museveni's offer. To date, the LRA has not entered a dialogue with the GOU.

Food security further jeopardized in northern Uganda. Escalating LRA atrocities have severely limited access to fields for the March-April planting season, which will result in another failed harvest this season. According to USAID/OFDA field reports, IDPs are afraid to venture out of camps even during the day, and have not prepared their fields for planting. In response to emergency food security assessments conducted in the Acholi Sub-Region during March and April, WFP announced plans to increase rations from between 50-65 to 78 percent of minimum daily requirements in order to avoid increased hunger, malnutrition, and fatalities, particularly among children. Higher rations are intended to compensate for the food IDPs can no longer access in their fields. WFP continues to provide full rations to extremely vulnerable households, including lone elderly, disabled, and child- or widow-headed households, as well as to malnourished and formerly abducted children.

According to WFP, if additional resources are not made available, there will be no cereals for IDPs or fortified blended food for children from May to December 2004. As of April 30, the total shortfall projected though the end of 2004 was more than 100,000 metric tons (MT), including 82,000 MT of cereals, with the remainder in pulses, corn-soya blend (CSB), and vegetable oil. WFP currently distributes food to more than 1.6 million IDPs, 160,000 refugees, and other vulnerable persons. During the last major pipeline break from December 2002 through February 2003, global acute malnutrition among children under five rose to more than 30 percent. The U.S. Government provides 68 percent of WFP relief and recovery assistance to Uganda.

Increased IDP populations but decreased access. From March 14 to 20, USAID's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/DCHA) Deputy Assistant Administrator (DAA) visited Uganda to assess security and humanitarian conditions in Lira and Gulu districts. The DAA found that an increased IDP population, combined with decreased access, has caused living conditions for IDPs to deteriorate.

In the sectors of water and sanitation, conditions are particularly poor. Most IDPs in Lira and Gulu districts only manage to collect 6 liters of water per person per day, far below the Sphere standard of 15 liters, and often wait up to eight hours to access water points. Sanitation conditions are also far below the Sphere standard of 20 persons per latrine. In most camps there are at least 100 IDPs per latrine, and in camps such as Erute in Lira, more than 350 IDPs share a single latrine. The potential for disease outbreak, already high, further increased with the start of the rainy season in April.

In the sectors of health and nutrition, screening for nutritional and health referrals remains difficult due to limited access and staff. According to Lira District officials, health care for the more than 210,000 IDPs in the rural camps is virtually non-existent, as only a few rural health centers are functioning and mobile clinics reach only those camps close to the municipality.

Poor security and road conditions have now effectively isolated many rural camps. Humanitarian workers report having increased difficulty in accessing camps due to insecurity in Gulu, Kigum, and Pader districts, and humanitarian access to rural camps in Lira is nonexistent. USAID/OFDA implementing partners report that the transportation of food and drugs to the camps is increasingly hindered by insecurity and the potential for ambushes. As the rainy season has begun, increasing IDP populations and decreasing access may further deteriorate humanitarian conditions.

Ministry of Health (MOH) launches 'Child Days.' On May 3, the MOH launched 'Child Days,' a new initiative that seeks to improve access to routine health services at the district level. During May, activities throughout Uganda will include Vitamin A supplementation, routine measles immunizations, de-worming programs, and vaccinations against maternal and neonatal tetanus for pregnant women. In particular, the MOH is targeting 90 percent of children under five living in IDP settlements. UNICEF is supporting the initiative through funding, supplies and equipment, and technical assistance.

Refugee flows. On April 20, the GOU registered 494 refugees fleeing ethnic tension in the DRC. WFP provided a 15-day ration to the arrivals, who have been installed at the Kyaka II refugee camp in southwestern Kyenjojo District.

From March 29 to April 3, under an agreement between the GOU, Government of Rwanda, and UNHCR, 974 Rwandan refugees were repatriated from camps in Nakivale, Oruchinga, and Kyaka II. The group was the second to return to Rwanda, following 900 voluntary returnees in January 2004. According to UNHCR, 19,586 Rwandan refugees continue to live in Uganda. WFP anticipates that the next repatriation convoy will depart in May or June 2004.


On October 1, 2003, U.S. Ambassador Jimmy Kolker redeclared a disaster in response to the ongoing complex humanitarian emergency in northern Uganda. To date in FY 2004, USAID/OFDA has funded more than more than $4 million in humanitarian programs. USAID/OFDA provided $500,000 to UN OCHA to enhance coordination efforts among the humanitarian relief community. USAID/OFDA is also providing more than $1.7 million to Action Against Hunger USA (AAH/USA), GOAL, and the International Medical Corps (IMC) for health and nutrition programs, more than $1 million to International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Medair to improve sanitation conditions and access to potable water, $500,000 to World Vision International (WVI) for shelter, water, and sanitation programs, and $461,000 to FAO and UNICEF for coordination and food security activities.

USAID/OFDA released an Annual Program Statement (APS) for Uganda in December 2003 and an APS amendment in April 2004. The APS invites NGOs to propose humanitarian interventions on behalf of the IDPs and night commuters in northern and eastern Uganda. USAID/OFDA has received several proposals from NGOs and is in the process of evaluating them. Depending on final award decisions, the total funding provided for the crisis in northern Uganda could exceed $8 million for FY 2004.

To date in FY 2004, USAID's Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) has provided 50,100 MT of P.L. 480 Title II emergency food assistance valued at more than $31 million. Commodities provided include maize, CSB, vegetable oil, and pulses. The Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) continues to support the humanitarian needs of refugees in Uganda. To date in FY 2004, State/PRM has provided more than $1.5 million in funding to WFP and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). This is in addition to more than $82 million in unearchmarked funding that State/PRM has provided to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UNHCR, a portion of which supports programs in Uganda.

Implementing Partner
AAH/USA Nutrition Gulu
GOAL Nutrition, Health Pader
IMC Health Pader, Kitgum, Soroti
IRC Health, Water and Sanitation Pader, Kitgum, Soroti
MEDAIR Water and Sanitation, Non-Food Items Pader
UNFAO Coordination, Food Security, Agriculture Countrywide
UNICEF Health Coordination Funds Countrywide
UN OCHA Coordination Countrywide
WVI Sanitation, Shelter Gulu, Kitgum, Soroti
Administrative Costs
WFP P.L. 480 Title II Emergency Food Assistance - 50,100 MT Countrywide
WFP Refugee feeding Countrywide
IFRC Refugee assistance Countrywide
Total USAID Humanitarian Assistance to Uganda in FY 2004
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance to Uganda in FY 2004

1 USAID/OFDA funding represents committed and/or obligated amount as of May 5, 2004.

2 Estimated value of food assistance.

Tamra Halmrast-Sanchez
Acting Director
Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance

MAP - USAID/DCHA/OFDA ongoing programs in Uganda

USAID/OFDA bulletins can be obtained from the USAID web site at