When the United Nations' Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, visited Uganda last month, he advocated for a 'triple effort' to address the 'triple challenge' facing the more than a million internally displaced people (IDP) eager to return home after 20 years of conflict in the north of the country.
Mr. Holmes stressed the importance of a seamless transition from relief to development and pointed out the need for providing aid to those still in IDP camps, helping those in the process of return, and assist with early recovery aid to those who have reached their home villages and towns.
"[the international community] cannot afford to fail, and we will have no good excuses if we do", Mr. Holmes urged in a statement to the UN Security Council after his visit to Uganda.
New estimates endorsed by the humanitarian community in Uganda show an overall positive, but slow return trend: Nation-wide, 59 per cent remain in camps, 20 per cent are in a half-way situation in so-called new settlement sites, while 21 percent of now former IDPs have returned to their villages of origin (Fig 1 the 'triple challenge').
However, a closer analysis reveals wide disparities in the complex return pattern between the five affected regions Acholi, Teso, Lango, Toro-Bunyoro, and West Nile.
Worst case is Acholi. Of an original IDP camp population of more than 1.1 million, 70 per cent or 780,837 remain in camps. Only 1 per cent has fully returned to their homes, while 29 per cent are in 329 new settlement sites which are often spontaneous settlements out of the IDP camp but closer to home and the allimportant farmland for the mainly agricultural northern population. Best case is Lango where only 20 per cent or 93,000 IDPs remain in camps and 80 per cent or 373,103 people have returned to their villages of origin. There are no new settlement sites in Lango.
The three phases of return - IDP camp, new settlement sites, and full return - will co-exist creating a complex situation which demands a flexible and highly coordinated response, Mr. Holmes told the Security Council.
The humanitarian community in Uganda will need donor support to assist the Government and other actors in a successful transition, which may take 3-4 years. But while funding for humanitarian interventions in Uganda was generous in 2006 - the Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal was funded 90 per cent - the Appeal for 2007 is currently projected to be funded at only 50 per cent of the target of USD 303 million.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.