Uganda + 1 more

Humanitarian Update - Uganda Volume 1, Issue 10

Situation Report
Originally published

ADF attacks increase; Relief convoys threatened
MSF/F survey finds emergency level mortality rates

Security in western Uganda Rwenzori region continued to deteriorate over the past month taking a dramatic turn in early December, 9 Dec, when the ADF attacked Katonjo prison in Fort Portal and released over 360 prisoners. The next day Bundibugyo District was attacked by the ADF reportedly on 8 different fronts -- about 8 soldiers and 3 civilians are reported killed by the rebels. The following day, rebels entered Bundibugyo town around 5.30am and fighting continued up to 8.30am in the morning when the rebels were repulsed by the UPDF.

Since that time there have been further attacks in the District and on the Bundibugyo-Fort Portal Road. The District has advised all relief workers to remain in Bundibugyo Town and not move around District.

In response to the insecurity WFP staff have relocated to Fort Portal. World Harvest Mission staff left the District earlier than planned for their holiday. WHM staff flew out early in the week but the UPDF then temporarily withdrew clearance for flights. MSF/F staff working outside the town have been withdrawn to Kampala since they were unable to work throughout the District while other MSF/F and ICRC staff are restricting their movements outside of town. Non-local ActionAid staff remain in Kampala for the time being.

A letter purportedly from the ADF was sent to relief agencies stating that convoys of humanitarian assistance to Bundibugyo will be attacked whether escorted by uniformed or civilian clothed guards. The letter claims that humanitarian assistance is being diverted to serve military purposes.

Relief situation: Large numbers of internally displaced are reported to have sought refuge in Bundibugyo Town. MSF/F had just commenced a measles vaccination campaign in response to a measles outbreak in the District - this is now suspended. However MSF/F continues to support health and water activities in Town. WFP had already distributed most of December's food rations. ICRC continues activities inside Bundibugyo town and is especially focusing on support to the Hospital to deal with war-wounded. ICRC has arranged for immediate evacuation of serious medical cases to distant hospitals.

MSF/F has released findings of a survey completed in November. Major highlights include a determination that malnutrition has not increased or decreased since March 1999 with levels still quite acceptable and comparable to normal Ugandan populations: 2.6 % global acute and 0.5 % severe acute in percentage of median. However, the MSF survey found very high mortality rates for children under five at 3.1/10,000 day, which MSF considers as unacceptable in an emergency context. The survey also found an extremely high rate of malarial infection. In one camp, testing indicated that 83.6 % of children under 15 had suffered from or were suffering from malaria in the past two weeks. For more details, contact MSF/France.

Recent humanitarian assessments of the Kibaale displaced population by ICRC, UNICEF, MSF/F and OCHA found approximately 12,000 displaced persons living in IDP camps and with neighbours, friends and relatives in Mpefu and Bwikara Sub-counties. The most critical needs were shelter and medical care as well as increased access to water. ICRC plans to distribute a variety of non-food relief items to the displaced in early January.

Karamoja assessment warns of impending emergency

The report from an inter-agency assessment to Kotido and Moroto in early December predicts that certain vulnerable groups may need free food aid in June-August 2000. The next harvest in Karamoja is in August 2000. Other food interventions such as Food-for-work and/or subsidised food sales may be able to ensure sufficient food security for the remainder of the population. WFP, FAO, UNHCR, Oxfam, ADRA, LWF and District officials conducted the assessment.

WFP reports that there was minimum to no harvest in 1999 but notes that the area is heavily dependent on pastoralism and that 1998 saw a bumper harvest. The poor harvest in 1999 was due to the bad timing rather than lack of rain since it was found that the quantity of rains in 1999 has been nearly normally (560-800 mm versus a norm of 600-1000 mm).

Insecurity has disrupted the normal pattern of dry season migration of animals and livestock condition worse than usual. There are now reports that Karamojong have already moved their herds into neighbouring districts, which is expected to increase tension. Insecurity in the area appears to arise from inter-tribal cattle rustling and clashes, cross border raids from and to Kenya and Sudan, and the trade in arms and ammunition.

The team found that market prices are now stable but were expected to rise in January-July 2000. LWF is pre-positioning food in order to attempt to keep prices stable. Household food stocks already appear very low and meal consumption is down to one meal a day. It appears that there is increasing nutritional stress amongst the population.

Based on the mission, the team recommended:

  • increases in the WFP school feeding programme throughout the area from January through August;
  • improved coordination with respect to activities in Karamoja;
  • FFW work activities in March - August for most affected areas and provision of free food only to elderly and nursing mothers
  • free food distributions in only June- August 2000 to most affected households.

WFPs ability to implement recommendations will depend on availability of funds and stocks.

Short Notes

Rwandan "refugees" claim rejected: Forty Rwandan students recently entered Uganda to seek asylum claiming that their life was in danger following a demonstration they staged in August 1999 against the Rwandan Government policy of compulsory French language in their education programme. The Rwandans were born and raised in Ugandan and therefore unable and unwilling to comply with the Rwandan requirement. Following the investigations by UNHCR, UNHCR failed to find indication of persecution against the group and therefore does not intend to provide humanitarian assistance to the group.

World Bank approves $114.9 million for Uganda: The World Bank recently approved an $80.9 million Local Government Development Programme to support the government of Uganda's national development strategy, contained in its Poverty Eradication Action Plan (1997). The second programme approved at $34 million is the Second Economic and Financial Management Programme which aims to improve the effectiveness of public expenditure management, such as government planning, budgeting, financial management, monitoring and evaluation.

Uganda in process of destroying anti-personnel landmine stockpiles: A recent Fact Sheet, Anti-personnel landmine stockpiles and their destruction prepared by Human Rights Watch lists Uganda as one of 36 State Parties to the 1997 Landmine Convention which still have AP mine stockpiles. Uganda signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel landmines and On their Destruction in 1998. The report indicates that Uganda has some 50,000 landmines and is now in the process of destroying them although the number thus far destroyed is unknown. The report also notes that three rebel groups are known to have stockpiles of AP mines - the LRA, the ADF and the West Nile Bank Front.

Amnesty Law, Uganda- Sudan peace agreements brings hope to Gulu and Kitgum

Calm continues in Gulu and Kitgum. The approval of the Amnesty Law by Ugandan Parliament (for all current rebels) on 7 December and the signing of the peace agreement between Uganda and Sudan the following day sends signals of hope to the population. The recent events in Sudan however cast some doubt on whether Bashir will be able to follow through with his Government's promises. Following these events, there were increased rumours that large numbers of abducted children will be released soon. Relief agencies and Government working with formerly abducted children have undertaken extensive contingency planning.


Report on the Conference, Peace Research & the Reconciliation Agenda, District Farm Institute, Gulu, 27-29 September 1999, By ACORD & ARLPI.

EPICENTRE, Evaluation of the health situation of the internally displaced population of Bundibugyo District, November 1999.

Doom, Ruddy & Vlassenroot, Koen, Kony’s message: a new Koine? The "Lord’s Resistance Army" in Northern Uganda, publication date, location unknown.

Kayunga, Sallie Simba, Islamic Fundamentalism in Uganda: The Tabligh Youth Movement, in Uganda-Studies in Living Conditions, Popular Movements and Constitutionalism, Vienna, 1993.

Syahuka-Muhindo. Arthur, The Rwenzururu Movement and the Democratic Struggle, ibid.

Proceedings from the Workshop on Improving Food Aid Targeting in East Africa, Sep. 15-17 1999, USAID/REDSO & USAID/FEWS, Kenya, October 1999.

Calendar of Events

Bundibugyo/Kabarole/Kasese Coordination Meeting

Place: Department for Disaster Preparedness, 5th Fl. Conference room

Time: 11 am, 20 January 2000

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

Gulu-Kitgum Meeting

Place: Gulu District

Time: 27 January 2000

Regular coordination meeting on Gulu and Kitgum to take place this month in Gulu. Time and location to be determined.

Sudanese refugees continue to arrive in Karamoja

Sudanese continue to cross into Karamoja seeking refuge in Uganda. There are currently 578 individuals, the majority of whom are from Chukudum, Kapwata, Lorema, Kekilai and Lotukei Counties in southern Sudan. Past influxes of Sudanese into Karamoja have often been motivated by educational opportunities in Uganda resulting in a caseload of young single persons. However, the presence of 65 families indicates the cause of flight may be different from past influxes. The Government and UNHCR are currently considering the most appropriate response.

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
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256 (41) 349808/10
Fax: +256 (41) 349809

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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