Decision reference number: ECHO/UGA/EDF/2004/02000
1 - Rationale, needs and target population:
1.1. - Rationale:
Nearly 19 years of warfare have taken their toll on the population of Northern Uganda. The insecurity in the region is mainly due to the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) insurgency which is one of extreme brutality and ruthlessness in attacking the local population, killing, torching, pillaging and kidnapping, notably children to be abused as porters, fighters or sex slaves, to an extent that has become notorious, and is hardly matched by any other rebel group, even in conflict-ridden Sub-Saharan Africa. Further insecurity is caused by the cattleraiding in north eastern Uganda by the Karimojong tribe.
In March 2002 the Ugandan army launched Operation Iron Fist I to flush out the LRA rebels from their hideouts in southern Sudan. As a result, the bulk of LRA forces entered northern Uganda, and split into smaller fighting units, which led to a sharp increase of incidents and attacks on the local population, including refugee and IDP camps. This had disastrous effects in humanitarian terms. As a consequence new displacements took place in Teso and Lango regions as the populations in these communities experienced the worst disruption they had ever suffered at the hands of the LRA from June-September 2003. Additional displacement also took place in Acholiland where people continued to flee to the IDP camps. In March 2004 the army announced Operation Iron Fist II, partly in response to the increasing attention paid by the international community to the plight of the Acholis, Langi and Iteso. The aim was for the final defeat of the LRA by UDPF, restoration of peace to northern Uganda and for a plan for resettlement and recovery for the northern region to be launched.
In recent months, the effect of the new military offensive has certainly resulted in fewer attacks on the camps. There have also been more and more rebel surrenders and military defeats by the army over the rebels. Arguably, the rebel force has had to splinter off into even smaller units, carries out fewer attacks and is less effective. However, attacks, despite the military offensive, whilst less intense and frequent, are still as brutal. There is increasing evidence of the planting of landmines on the main roads and civilians continue to be targeted as they try to reach their fields for planting.
Recent reports of government attempts to disarm warring factions in the Karamoja region are now beginning to filter through.. This will inevitably increase levels of insecurity as violent attacks are carried out. The region has traditionally been one of castle-rustling by the Karimojong tribe within Karamoja and along the Teso and Acholiland borders. Further instability is thus being created in already very volatile areas which have drought problems and where humanitarian needs may increase.
Through the current decision, ECHO will build on its current strategy and fund operations that focus on improving the food security and protection of the vulnerable population.