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Humanitarian Update - Uganda Volume II, Issue 1

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LRA and ADF attacks increase displacement, halt relief activities
The dramatic increase in activity by both the ADF and the LRA rebels operating in western and northern Uganda have brought relief activities to a near halt in the affected areas. In the Districts of Bundibugyo, Kitgum and Gulu, relief and development agencies are no longer moving outside of main town because of security concerns.

Large population movements have been reported as rebel attacks force residents of the three districts to seek security and protection in camps and towns. In Bundibugyo, the displaced are reportedly moving to different camps and seeking protection in the two main towns of Bundibugyo and Nyahuka. Some Bundibugyo residents are leaving the District for Kabarole and Kasese although the numbers do not appear significant at this time. In Gulu, the IDP camps are now full once again as most of the population moved back to the IDP camps with the encouragement of the District officials. In Kitgum, the affected population is sleeping in the IDP camps and in certain locations around Kitgum town but people are still moving outside of town and the camps during the day attempting to bring in the last of the harvest and bring their food stores to a more secure location. See related articles.

ADF attacks continue in Rwenzori region;

Relief efforts halted, displacement continues

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have continued their recently intensified campaign in the Rwenzori region. In the past month, the ADF have attacked villages and IDP camps killing dozens of civilians, and burning homes and shelters in Bundibugyo and Kabarole. The past month also witnessed ambushes of vehicles on the Bundibugyo-Fort Portal Road as well as on the roads leading west towards Bwera in Kasese District on the DRC border. However, convoys of civilians vehicles are now travelling to and from Bundibugyo Town without armed escort since the ADF have threatened to attack any convoy accompanied by military escort.

ADF continues as well attacks on police posts and UPDF detaches. There have been daily battles and skirmishes in Bundibugyo District. News reports indicate there have been ambushes in Bushenyi District near the Kasese border and security officials have increased surveillance there.

In response to the fighting, the people in Bundibugyo District are congregating in Bundibugyo and Nyahuka Towns. Camps outside of these two towns are emptying rapidly as people search for more security and in light of serious attacks on IDP camps. In one incident at Kirindi IDP camp over 25 civilians are reported to have been killed. In Kabarole, the residents of sub-counties along the Rwenzori Mountains are moving down into already formed camps and staying with relatives. The District officials estimate that the displaced population may have doubled in the past month but no new data is available since a 15 December figure of 15,000 IDPs was provided. In Kasese, a few new arrivals from Bundibugyo and Kabarole are reported but they appear to be settling with friends and relatives rather than in IDP camps.

Relief agencies relocated all expatriate staff and most national staff out of Bundibugyo District in late December and have halted almost all relief activities in the area until security is better guaranteed. Relief activities in Bundibugyo are currently limited to some minimal medical supplies and drugs being provided by MSF/F and ICRC directly to the Bundibugyo Hospital. In addition, MSF/F is attempting to keep the Bundibugyo urban water supply functioning through its emergency water works; MSF local staff are also supporting the therapeutic feeding centre in Bundibugyo Hospital. Activities by ActionAid, World Harvest Mission, WFP, UNICEF, and SCF/UK are currently on hold.

In Kasese, most NGOs are continuing development and relief work although the security situation is not very good. ICRC had planned to halt food distributions at the end of 1999 and this decision has now been implemented; other activities are on hold until sufficient security is guaranteed. SCF/UK is continuing to construct five temporary schools for IDPs with the support of UNICEF. In Kabarole, the District has appealed for assistance to address the very poor water and sanitation situation in the IDP camps and in institutions that are temporarily housing IDPs. No assistance is currently being provided to Kibaale displaced populations.

Gulu, Kitgum paralysed by LRA

Displaced return to IDP camps, Relief efforts on hold

Shattering nearly one year of quiet and calm in Gulu and Kitgum, the Lord’s Resistance Army crossed back into northern Uganda just days before Christmas on 22 December and have been attacking military and civilian targets, IDP camps, and vehicles throughout Gulu and Kitgum for the past month, including Gulu and Kitgum towns. Though the number of rebels is unknown, the LRA appear to have split into a multitude of small bands throughout the two districts. Unlike in January 1999, there have been no child escapees from the LRA thus far perhaps because there have been few major engagements between the UPDF and LRA. The UPDF has captured 23 child soldiers. The military is now providing a military escort for vehicle travel on the Lira-Kitgum and Gulu-Kampala road. There have already been reports of a number of landmine incidents. The LRA have abducted numerous people - some of whom have been released after acting as porters.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons that had only just recently ventured away from the IDP camps to reclaim their homes, have now returned to the IDP camps in both Districts. Actual verification of numbers by relief agencies is impossible due to insecurity. Thousands of area residents are also spending each night in Gulu and Kitgum Towns in hospital grounds, bus parks, schools etc. The numbers fluctuate depending on the daily security situation. Water and sanitation in these locations is not adequate for the new arrivals.

In Gulu, reportedly most of the former IDP population is back in the camps and not moving outside of the camps much during the day. There is concern that many of the IDPs were not able to bring their harvest and other goods with them to the camp. In Kitgum, while most former IDPs have returned to the camps, people are still moving about during the day returning to their homes in an effort to collect final harvests and bring food stores to the camps. In some areas, there are reports that market prices are very low due to the forced sale of food in order to convert assets into cash. Of greatest concern in terms of food security are those displaced persons who had little or no harvest in 1999 particularly in Agoro and Potika area of Kitgum where former land is mined and unsafe.

Relief and development agencies are minimising all movement on roads throughout the two districts due to the insecurity of road travel. Almost no relief activities have been undertaken since before Christmas. Relief and development agencies are meeting regularly in Kitgum and in Gulu to monitor the situation.

The attack and murder of eight relief workers in southern Sudan on 13 January, reportedly by the LRA, has caused consternation amongst the relief community. Norwegian Church Aid, an NGO working in southern Sudan, was conducting an assessment of the population displaced by recent movements of the LRA inside Sudan.

The new offensive of the LRA occurs just weeks after the Uganda Parliament passed a law offering amnesty to all surrendering rebels, and Uganda and Sudan signed an agreement vowing to stop support to rebel groups harbouring in their respective territories. President Museveni reportedly signed the Amnesty Bill into effect in mid-January.

Sudanese hand-over Ugandans

As of Monday, 24 January, the Sudanese Government has handed over 53 Ugandans, 43 of whom are children, 10 adults, to UNICEF in Khartoum. Few details regarding the identity of the Ugandans are available at present. More children and adults are expected to be handed over in the coming days. The Ugandans are in Khartoum at present and are expected to be flown to Uganda shortly although no return date has yet been fixed.

Karamoja food security deteriorating

There are continuing reports that the food security situation in Karamoja continues to deteriorate. There are increased numbers of people coming to the towns in search of casual labour in order to purchase food. There are also some reports of people actually dying of starvation. WFP has authorized the release of some limited food aid for needy individuals who had migrated to towns in search of food. The WFP school-feeding programme is due to reopen with the schools in early February but District officials are hesitant to expand the school-feeding programme for fear of undermining education. The Government’s Department of Disaster Preparedness sent 380 bags of maize flour and 200 bags of beans to Moroto in December.

A follow-up inter-agency assessment is planned for early February to reconfirm the extent of the food insecurity for targeting of food assistance and better identify appropriate mechanisms for provision of food aid, whether through feeding programmes, food distribution or market support.

According to FEWS, January 2000 report, "dry conditions in northeastern pastoral Districts of Moroto and Kotido have reduced access to pastures and browse. This has resulted in increased migration of Karamojong pastoralists and livestock to dry season grazing areas located in eastern Kitgum, Lira, Katakwi, Soroti, Kumi and Kapchorwa Districts."

This movement of pastoralists and herds to neighbouring districts is of concern for two reasons: first, the spread of infectious animal diseases which have been in Karamoja since late 1999 and second, the potential for violent clashes between residents and visiting Karamojong attempting to graze their herds on the cultivated or pasture land of others. Already, newspapers have reported raiding and cattle rustling in Lira, Kitgum, Katakwi, and Kumi.

Some positive signs from Kitgum Nutritional Survey

Current insecurity threatens to reverse gains

An ACF-USA nutritional survey in Kitgum in December 1999 found that global malnutrition of children aged 6-59 months, living in non-displaced areas has decreased dramatically since the March 1999 survey, from 6.7% to 3.5%. The rates for children living outside of camps are much lower than the percentage found in the IDP camps. ACF notes that this relatively low level of global acute malnutrition can be expected to increase if insecurity continues in Kitgum.

The level of global acute malnutrition in the IDP camps, now 6.6%, has only marginally improved since March when it was 7.0%. The percentage of severe malnutrition for the 6-59 month age group is also higher in IDP camps than in villages. The high percentage of global acute malnutrition in the IDP camps for the 6 - 29 month age group, at 10.2 %, is of concern, since they appear more at risk of malnourishment than 30-59 month age group.

Other findings from the survey include:

Measles vaccination coverage is low with less than 20% of the children being vaccinated at, or after, nine months as proved by card. However, based on card and parental recall, the vaccination rate appears to be 57% of children in Villages and 50.5 % of the children in IDP camps.

Mortality rates are under alarm level for children under five years old at a rate of 1.32 deaths per 10,000 persons per day. However the mortality rates in the IDP camps has doubled since the March survey when the mortality rate was only 0.6/10,000/day. The mortality rates in the villages are marginally better than in the IDP camps at 1.2/10,000/day.

Global chronic or "stunting" are higher in the villages (at 39.7%) than in the IDP camps (36.8%).

For more information and full statistics, including 95% confidence intervals, please contact ACF-USA directly.

Cholera Update

The only districts still reporting cholera cases at the beginning of 2000 were Kisoro, Arua and Kasese. The latest MoH report (2 Jan. 2000) reports that the Eastern Region has reported zero cases for 18 weeks and Mbarara none for over two months.

The 1999 case fatality rate was 4.45% with a total number of cases reported since 1 January 1999, of 5,129 with 228 deaths as of 2 January 2000, up from 4,914 (with 226 deaths) as of 5 December 1999.

Sweden contributes over $800,000 to UN appeal

The Swedish Government has agreed to provide SEK 7 million (approximately USD $840,000) to the United Nations in Uganda in support of the 2000 UN Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal for Uganda. The funding will go to UNICEF (SEK 3 million), FAO (2 million), UNDP (SEK 1 million) and OCHA/Humanitarian Coordination Unit (SEK 1 million).

Resources...

ActionAid, Between a Rock and a Hard Place? Responding to IDP Food Needs in Uganda, in Field Exchange, Special Focus: Food Aid Targeting, published by the Emergency Nutrition Network, November 1999, Issue 8, Dublin, Ireland.

Calendar of Events

Bundibugyo/Kabarole/Kasese Coordination Meeting

Place: Department for Disaster Preparedness, 5th Fl. Conference room
Time: 11 am, 24 February 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.

Affected Populations
District
Beneficiary Type
31/12/99
Trend
Adjumani
Refugees (Su)
IDPs
71,392
10,000
UP
--
Apac
Abducted children
83
--
Arua
Refugees
- Imvepi (Su)
- Rhino Camp (Su,DRC,Br)

12,804
30,820

UP
DOWN
Bundibugyo
IDPs
Abducted children
101,000
unknown
SAME
Gulu
IDPs
Abducted children
237,710
2,717
SAME
--
Hoima
Refugees (DRC, Su, Ky,Br)
- Kyangwali

5,906

UP
Kabarole
Refugees
- Kyaka II (DRC)
IDPs

1,621
20,000

SAME
UP
Kapchorwa
IDPs
5,000
SAME
Kasese
IDPs
Abducted children
35,000
unknown
SAME
Kibaale
IDPs
12,000
SAME
Kitgum
Refugees
- Acholi-pii (Su)
IDPs
Abducted children

23,398
93,000
1,863

UP
SAME
--
Lira
Abducted children
141
--
Mbarara
Refugees
- Oruchinga (Rw )
- Nakivale (Rw,DRC,other)

4,902
4,531

UP
UP
Masindi
Refugees
- Kiryandongo (Su)
IDPs

13,594
46,958

SAME
SAME
Moyo
Refugees (Su)
27,554
UP
Urban areas
Refugees (mix)
328
UP
Refugees
196,850
UP
IDPs
560,668
UP
Abducted children
4,804
--
Total
762,322
UP
1 Affected population figures, especially for IDPs and vulnerable, are of variable accuracy due to rapidly changing situation as well as the varying quality of information sources. Inclusion in this list does not necessarily indicate the population is receiving humanitarian assistance.

2 Figures for refugees are from UNHCR and abbrev. are Sudanese (Su), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, (Rw), Somalia (So), Ethiopia (Et), Eritrea (Er), Burundi (Br), Kenyan (Ky). For IDPs, sources of figures are: Bundibugyo (WFP, 10/99); Gulu (District, 3/99); Kabarole (District, 4/99); Kapchorwa (WFP/GoU Assessment, 3/99); Kasese (UNICEF/WFP, 8/99); Kitgum (WFP); Masindi (District, 1-3/99). For abducted children, figures are from Districts via UNICEF (6/99).

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
Email: Kathleen.Campbell@wfp.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.