Fact sheet: ICRC in Uganda

Situation Report
Originally published
General Situation:
Owing to the ongoing volatile situation in some parts of Uganda, the plight of almost half a million internally displaced people (IDP) continues to be a matter of concern. While an estimated 85,000 IDP are newly displaced in the Bundibugyo district, many throughout Uganda still find it difficult to return to their homes and in certain areas have limited access to cultivable land, hygiene, health care, as well as inadequate food and economic security

In Acholiland, in northern Uganda, the security situation was relatively quiet during the first semestre of 1999. This has led to a number of improvements for the civilian population. Displaced people living in camps have benefited from increased freedom of movement and access to agricultural land. However, despite this recent increased stability, the situation in the north remains fragile.

The ICRC delegation is located in Kampala with offices in Gulu, Kitgum, Arua, Kasese and Bundibugyo.


Seed Distribution Programme:

Following an assessment carried out by the ICRC agronomist in the beginning of 1999, the ICRC conducted a major seeds and tools distribution for displaced people in Acholiland. With the help of the Uganda Red Cross Society volunteers, food crop seeds, hoes, vegetable kits and soap were distributed to more than 308,000 people.

In addition, in Kitgum district, 8,820 newly displaced people in two villages were assisted with seeds, hoes, blankets, jerry cans and soap.

Assistance in the South-western Region:

After having received the necessary security guarantees, in June the ICRC carried out an assessment in 20 of the 46 camps for displaced people in Bundibugyo district. Many of them lack adequate shelter facilities and are facing clean water supply problems. Hygiene standards have been affected and the dangers of cholera epidemics have increased.

Following this assessment, the ICRC decided to provide emergency assistance covering the most urgent shelter and hygiene needs. The health delegate in Bundibugyo carries out weekly checks on infectious diseases, and provides ad hoc assistance in the Bundibugyo district hospital. The water and sanitation engineer will also evaluate the appropriate response to the problem of access to clean water.

Support to Health Facilities:

The ICRC supplies surgical kits and medicine to government and private hospitals in the Kitgum and Gulu districts and in Kasese when these facilities lack sufficient stocks to treat influxes of war-wounded.

Fort Portal Orthopeadic Centre:

In order to meet the needs of people who had lost limbs, both as a result of war injuries or landmine incidents, the ICRC signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health to support the Fort Portal prosthetic/orthotic centre in western Uganda, provided that treatment and rehabilitation of amputees at the centre was free. The ICRC also undertook the training of local technicians in polypropylene techniques.

The centre is currently operating effectively and has the capacity to attend 20 amputees per month.

The ICRC activities in Uganda cover a wide spectrum of humanitarian activities, such as:

Visits to prisoners to check on their material and psychological conditions.

- On 13 January 2000, the ICRC repatriated 72 Sudanese prisoners of war released by the Ugandan authorities from Entebbe to Khartoum

- Between January and September 1999, the ICRC visited 1,526 people detained for security reasons or in connection with activities of armed opposition movements, held in 56 places of detention.

- Up to August 1999, provided 19.5 tonnes of material assistance andbasic medical supplies to detainees.

- carried out renovations to the ward sanitary blocks, the water supply and sewage systems and kitchens in a number of Kampala prisons; initiated a vegetable garden programme at 21 prisons throughout the country

Restoring family links through the Red Cross Message Network (RCM):

- Between January and September 1999, with the assistance of the Uganda Red Cross, the ICRC collected and distributed over 6,000 RCMs.

Identifying and implementing water and sanitation programmes to improve the conditions of civilians and displaced people.

Providing assistance to civilians affected by the conflict:

- Up to August, the ICRC provided 792 tonnes of seeds, 404 tonnes of soap, 230,190 hoes, 58,600 axes and 58,000 machetes to 373,000 displaced people in Acholiland in northern Uganda; distributed 50 tonnes of soap, thousands of blankets, tarpaulins and jerrycans to 53,430 displaced people in Bundibugyo district in the south-west.

Providing assistance to vulnerable people in both times of war and peace:

Promoting and facilitating educational seminars to spread the basic rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and principles. People targeted are government officials, armed forces, university law faculty and National Society members.

Budget and Staff:

The 2000 budget for the ICRC Uganda is SFr 16,457,617.

Personnel includes:
- 24 expatriates.
- 173 locally hired staff.