To end suffering of Uganda's 1.4 million IDPs, donors must urge government to protect camps against rebel attacks

Report
from Global IDP Project
Published on 18 Dec 2003
GENEVA, 18 December 2003 - Uganda's donors should insist that the government protect the 1.4 million internally displaced people, or IDPs, who have been uprooted by the fighting between government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in the north of the country, concludes a report published by the Norwegian Refugee Council's Global IDP Project today.
"In order to bring an end to this humanitarian catastrophe and the suffering of the victims of this bloody conflict, the country's major donors should use their influence to urge the Ugandan government to effectively protect IDP camps against rebel attacks", says the report. "Also, existing regional mechanisms under the New Partnership for Africa's Development and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development should be used to encourage the government to fulfil its obligation to protect its citizens."

Hundreds of thousands of newly displaced people have poured into camps since the 17-year conflict escalated again in June 2003. The rebels regularly attack and loot the overcrowded camps, and hundreds of inhabitants have been killed, abducted or raped during the past weeks alone. Although government forces are present in most camps, they are small in numbers and mostly remain inactive of fear of being overwhelmed by the rebels, according to the report.

The dramatically deteriorating security situation also prevents adequate humanitarian assistance from reaching the camps. This exacerbates the widespread breakdown of schools, health care, and water and sanitation facilities. With little or no access to farmland and having lost practically all their livestock, the displaced depend almost exclusively on monthly food deliveries by the World Food Programme.

The rebels deliberately attack the camps in an apparent attempt to force the inhabitants back to their villages and thus create an environment providing for better logistical support and hiding opportunities.

The report suggests that stepping up security in the camps is essential for the protection of the lives of hundreds of thousands extremely vulnerable internally displaced people, and a prerequisite for the much-needed improvement of humanitarian conditions.

The full report as well as additional information are available from a special web page on Uganda at www.idpproject.org/countries/Uganda/Uganda.htm.

The Geneva-based Global IDP Project, established by the Norwegian Refugee Council at the request of the United Nations, is the leading international body monitoring internal displacement worldwide.