Uganda

Uganda Humanitarian Situation Report No. 1/06, 1-15 Jan 2006


Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attacks, in particular ambushes on civilian vehicles in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts, continued during the reporting period. In Dzaipi sub-county in Adjumani district, WFP reported that a suspected LRA group carried out an attack on 7 January killing four people and injuring twelve who were attending a wedding ceremony. The rebels then looted food stuff, household property, poultry and livestock before abducting three people. In Lira district, the LRA looted villages in Aromo sub-county before being intercepted by the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF). Further abduction attempts in Adwari sub-county were foiled. There were no reports of LRA attacks or sightings in Teso region.
In Lira district, the UPDF advises that all internally displaced persons (IDP) camps within a radius of 30kms from Lira town (eight camps) can be accessed without escorts. Outside the established radius, two camps are accessible without escort, while 12 camps in the sub-counties of Adwari, Aromo, Otuke and Aloi cannot be accessed without escort. This is a relaxation of restrictions imposed after the 13 December LRA ambush on a civilian vehicle. The situation remains unchanged in Kitgum and Pader districts where access to all IDP camps is still restricted, as well as for 40 of the 55 camps in Gulu district.

The UPDF has deployed troops on the Teso-Lango border to ensure security as the government starts resettling people living in camps. The UPDF has deployed in Morungatuny, Alito, Obalanga, Orungo, Ayola and Angica in Amuria district and in Otuke county in Lira and Pader districts to ensure that no rebels enter Teso. Similarly, the Kibaale Resident District Commissioner informed on 30 December 2005, that the army had deployed personnel in the districts bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to monitor the security situation and guard against possible attacks in the district.

Some NGOs have resumed activities after the suspension that followed last year's string of LRA attacks on humanitarian workers. In Lira and Pader districts, up to 50 percent of the aid agencies are conducting field movements to the level prior to the suspension. In Gulu district, nearly all humanitarian agencies have resumed normal field work with the exception of organisations with strict mandates regarding the use of military escorts or under financial constraints due to the high cost of hiring escort vehicles. Yet, a few agencies that were originally not using military escorts are currently doing so. Generally, agencies are conducting field operations with extreme caution, with regular reviews of their respective security procedures.

Camp fires in the Gulu, Kitgum, Pader and Lira districts are rampant in this dry and windy period and it is feared that the fires will continue until about March, when the first rains are expected. The causes for the fires seem to be mainly negligence and risky practices such as children left at home trying to cook and the proximity of cooking places to the huts. Various humanitarian agencies have responded with distribution of non-food-items (NFIs) and food to the affected families.

An 18-year-old UPDF soldier, who shot a 16-year-old boy in Lalogi IDP camp, Gulu district, on the night of 26 December 2005, was sentenced to death by hanging by the UPDF 4th Division Court Martial on 2 January. There has been no new development regarding soldiers involved in the shooting that followed in the camp and which left five people dead.

Karimojong warriors' cattle-stealing raids and clashes with Arrow militias continued in Amuria and Katakwi districts resulting in the death of five Karimojong. On 7 January, the Arrow militia Coordinator issued a directive for militia to shoot any Karimojong herdsmen found grazing their cattle on Teso land. Security in the areas bordering with Karamoja remains unpredictable and perspectives for return are curtailed as displaced populations perceive the Karimojong attacks as a major threat to their security.

Meanwhile, in Kitgum district, the Uganda Red Cross Society informed that several Karimojong herdsmen had crossed over from Kotido with their cattle to the north-eastern sub counties of Namukora, Akilok and Orom. This movement is triggered by shortage of water and gazing grass. The approach in Kitgum district in dealing with Karimojong cattle-keepers appears so far to be peaceful, with attempts by local leaders to mediate between the local population and the new comers. No serious clash has so far occurred with some Karimojong herdsmen freely interacting and buying food from the local markets.

II. POPULATION MOVEMENT

Night commuters. As a result of relatively improved security, district authorities in Gulu and humanitarian partners have agreed to progressively phase out the night commuters centres. On 3 January, civilian and military authorities met and both the Assistant Chief Administration Officer (ACAO) and the District Disaster Preparedness Coordinator (DDPC) had disagreed with the army's suggestion of closure of the night commuters centres. A 9-member Task Force Committee was formed to steer the phase out process. The planning process began on 12 January with emphasis on community-based programmes and maximum involvement of the children and parents/guardians. The UPDF has been urged to play a major role in building confidence in the community concerning the security situation. No time frame has been decided upon yet, but the implementation of activities such as community sensitization must commence immediately. The issue of closure of night commuter shelters has neither been brought up in Kitgum nor in Pader districts.

Camp decongestion. Reports indicate that the UPDF is establishing decongestion sites in Gulu district and urging displaced populations to move in to construct huts, without prior consultation with the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC). The DDMC has emphasized that all decongestion sites should meet the minimum requirements of good access for delivery of humanitarian assistance, presence of school structures, availability of sufficient land, availability of boreholes, etc. Most of the selected sites do not meet these standards. For instance, the school structure is 2kms away from the Langol camp in Alero and therefore unsafe for the children to walk; Omel camp in Cwero is located in Atoo Hills; Olinga camp in Pabbo is inaccessible by road. Most of these camps are located in militarily strategic sites.

In Pader, the DDMC meeting of December discussed displaced families complaints about the lack of construction materials, especially water, in the decongestion sites. Consequently, displaced families are moving to and building in some sites that they consider more habitable, but which the army has not designated for decongestion. The NGO COOPI completed construction of five boreholes, one in each of the five decongestion sites in Pader.

Return. In Lira district, there is an ongoing spontaneous movement to villages of origin, especially in the southern parts of the district. Discussions around issues of return of displaced populations in Teso and Lango regions continue as IDPs contend they are ready to move when security is assured in the areas of return. The Office of the Prime Minister delivered, on 31 December 2005, a consignment of food and non food items (NFIs) to Teso region, reportedly for IDPs willing to return to their villages.

III. SECTORAL ISSUES

Food security. Drought continues to affect parts of the country. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), rainfall patterns in northern Uganda in recent months have been very bad. Rainfall in 2005 was considerably insufficient compared to previous years. In Gulu district, the average monthly rainfall fell far below the average from 1981 to 2004. Similarly in Lira district, there are indications of an intermittent dry spell. Reports from Kitgum and Pader districts indicate that the extraordinary dry spell has led to water shortages in IDP camps. The situation in Karamoja is worse, and Karimojong warriors have recently camped on the eastern border of Pader district in search of water and pastures.

In Teso, FAO reports that the second season crops have performed poorly. The dry season set in a little early in mid October 2005, cutting off several acres of crops, mostly sorghum, maize and groundnuts before they matured. This is currently causing a food security threat. There has been a rapid increase in the demand for produce, especially sorghum, maize, finger millet and cassava.

The World Food Program (WFP) has expressed concern that high demand from drought-stricken neighbouring countries could lead to shortage of cereals in Uganda as cross-border traders buy more. The price of maize in Kampala markets has soared more than 200% in recent weeks.

Field reports indicate that some displaced families in Amuria and Katakwi are resorting to eating “amukeke” or dried sweet potato chips boiled, which are traditionally kept for difficult periods. A village market assessment on 3 January in Obalang in eastern Amuria district highlighted a drop in food stocks.

Water and Sanitation. In parts of Amuria and Katakwi district the drought is severe, swamps are drying and water tables are dropping, most water sources are experiencing low yields and long hours of waiting. In Okuso camp in Ngariam sub-county, where 320 displaced persons live, it takes 15 minutes of pumping to fill one jerry can with only enough water to fill 10 to 15 jerry cans a day. Atirir camp in Omodoi Sub County with 1,556 IDPs has one not properly functioning borehole and three pipes need replacing.

In most camps, families practice open fecal disposal. Atirir camp has three pit latrines and 30 bath shelters; Okuso camp has 14 pit latrines and 20 bath shelters. Opeuru Aodot camp with 2,006 IDPs has six pit latrines and 30 bath shelters. Akisim camp with 602 IDPs has 27 pit latrines.

IV. COORDINATION ACTIVITIES

Meetings. On 4 January 2006, OCHA chaired the bi-monthly Contact Group meeting in Kampala, focusing on security, access and increased camp fires and the need to have preventive measures as opposed to reactive interventions.

Main missions. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Louise Arbour, was on official mission to Uganda, 7-14 January 2006, to discuss human rights and humanitarian protection issues in Uganda. She visited Gulu and Karamoja (8-11 January 2006).


Schedule of District Coordination Meetings – 17-31 January 2006
District
Meeting / theme
Date
Time
Venue
Lira Food Security
Tue/17/Jan
9:00 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF office
Health & Nutrition
Tue/17/Jan
9:00 a.m.
DDH
HIV/AIDS
Wed/18/Jan
9:00 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF office
DDMC
Thur/19/Jan
9:00 a.m.
Resource Centre
Child Protection
Fri/27/Jan
9:30 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF office
Water & Sanitation
Wed/01/Feb
9:00 a.m.
IRC
Education
Thur/02/Feb
9:00 a.m.
Resource Centre
Pader Shelter & NFI
Tue/24/Jan
10:00 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF office
Water & Sanitation
Wed/25/Jan
10:00 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF office
DDMC
Fri/03/Feb
11:00 a.m.
District Council Hall
Soroti/ Kaberamaido Tubur sub-county Mgt Committee
Tue/17/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Sub-county HQs
Katine sub-county Mgt Committee
Wed/18/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Sub-county HQs
Food & Agriculture
Thur/19/Jan
10:00 a.m.
OCHA
District Planning
Fri/20/Jan
10:00 a.m.
District Council
Arapai sub-county Mgt Committee
Tue/24/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Sub-county HQs
Anyara sub-county Mgt Committee
Thur/26/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Sub-county HQs
Obuku camp Water & Sanitation Committee
Fri.27/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Sub-county HQs
Soroti DDMC
Tue/31/Jan
10:00 a.m.
District Council
Gulu Water & Sanitation
Tue/24/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Engineering Dept
Human Rights & Protection
Fri/27/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Rotational
Education
Thurs/19/Jan
10:00 a.m.
EARS Boardroom
Psychosocial
Wed/25/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Community Service Boardroom
Security
Fri/20/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Rotational
Security
Fri/27/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Rotational
Return
Tue/17/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Community Service Boardroom
Kitgum Humanitarian Coordination
17, 24 31 Jan
9:00 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF Boardroom
Kitgum Production meeting
Wed/18/Jan
2:30 p.m.
OCHA/UNICEF Boardroom
Human Rights & Protection
Wed/25/Jan
9:30 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF Boardroom
Health and Nutrition
Fri/20/Jan
9:30 a.m.
DDHS Boardroom
HIV/AIDS
Fri/27/Jan
9:30 a.m.
DDHS Boardroom
Water & Sanitation
Thurs/19/Jan
9:30 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF Boardroom
Education
Tues/24/Jan
2:30 p.m.
OCHA/UNICEF Boardroom
Security Core Group
Mon/30/Jan
10:00 a.m.
OCHA/UNICEF Boardroom
Katakwi Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH)
Tues/24/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Water Office/Rotational
Protection
Wed/25/Jan
10:00 a.m.
District Boardroom
Education
Thurs/19/Jan
10:00 a.m.
District Boardroom
Amuria DDMC
Tues/31/Jan
10:00 a.m.
Lukiiko Hall
Education Wed/18/Jan 10:00 a.m. Lukiiko Hall

Disclaimer

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