Uganda

Uganda: Malnutrition rates high among displaced children

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NAIROBI, 5 March (IRIN) - An assessment conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the government of Uganda has revealed that over 31 percent of children, under five years of age, are suffering from acute malnutrition in Anaka camp for displaced people, located in Gulu district, northern Uganda.
Describing the situation as "extremely concerning", WFP said on Tuesday there was a need for immediate blanket supplementary feeding to address the crisis and prevent an increase in the numbers of children affected.

In Pabbo camp, the largest of the settlements for displaced people in the region which hosts 45,000, 18 percent of under fives were suffering from acute malnutrition, WFP added.

Difficulties of access had been "a major impediment" to the provision of aid to the region, WFP said. The organisation required heavy military escorts to move food supplies to the area and had at times been unable to distribute due to insecurity.

Since October 2002, Pader district has been a "no-go" area for humanitarian agencies.

Insecurity caused by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group has caused 70 percent of the local populations of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader to flee from their homes, causing most people to lose their harvest in August and September 2002 and preventing them from replanting in October. They are now living in 53 densely populated, improvised camps, where living conditions are "very poor".

In a best case scenario, all the IDPs would remain almost entirely dependent on WFP for food until the next harvest in August 2003, the agency said.

The assessment, conducted last month, revealed that 180,000 mt of food commodities were required to feed people in northern Uganda - including 800,000 IDPs, 150,000 refugees, and 195,000 drought-affected people in Karamoja. The government had made a cash contribution of 1 billion Ugandan shillings (about US $550,000), and WFP had received donations to cover one third of the total needs.

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