Uganda: Unable to cope alone, survivors of a long conflict still need help

Operational update

The long conflict in northern Uganda has driven an estimated 1.7 million people away from their homes. They are now either still living in camps, in the process of returning home or resettling after years of displacement. Report on ICRC activities, January to March 2007.

Displaced people (IDPs) in Uganda have restricted access to land and so find it hard to be self-reliant. The ICRC is trying to improve the living conditions of some 770,000 people living in 64 IDP camps and surrounding areas in five districts in Northern Uganda (Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Amuru and Oyam). Depending on the outcome of ongoing peace talks and the movement of people towards returning home, the ICRC will adapt its protection and assistance programmes to the needs.

The ICRC continued to support the Uganda People's Defence Forces and the Uganda Police Force in implementing international humanitarian law / Law of Armed Conflict and humanitarian principles into their training and operational procedures.

Cooperation in the form of financial and technical assistance continued with the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS). The ICRC also kept up coordination efforts and an exchange of information with other humanitarian agencies to avoid duplication of services.

Overview of ICRC action, January - March 2007


The ICRC, aided by 100 Uganda Red Cross volunteers, assists 64 IDP camps in Gulu, Pader, Kitgum, Amuru and Oyam districts. Activities for the first quarter of 2007 included:

Economic security

  • 105,444 households received seeds, agricultural tools, sanitary items, school kits and clothing;

  • 894 families who lost their property in fires received essential household items;

  • 1,048 families received soap in seven camps in Gulu and Amuru districts.

Health & medical

  • 9 hospitals were given medical supplies. Major donations were made to Gulu Regional Referral, Kitgum and Anaka district hospitals, St. Joseph and Kalong missionary hospitals and the 5th Division military hospital;

  • 14 health centres were given regular support through on-the-job training, delivery of essential medicines, medical items and basic equipment;

  • 73 traditional birth attendants in 8 camps were trained in antenatal care, safe delivery, referral of complicated pregnancies and cases of sexual violence;

  • some 41,000 children aged up to 14 were de-wormed in 12 IDP camps in Pader and Kitgum district;

  • community-based activities (health education, malaria prevention campaigns and social mobilisation against cholera and meningitis) were organized in 18 IDP camps.

Water & sanitation

  • 9 new boreholes were drilled and 6 rehabilitated in 11 camps;

  • 510 pit latrines were built in 5 camps.


  • 49 visits were carried out at 39 places of detention (military and civilian);

  • 392 Red Cross Messages (RCMs) were exchanged between detainees and their families;

  • 4 places of detention received occasional assistance;

  • rehabilitation work was carried out at 5 prisons, including a sewage network in Gulu prison, the installation of hand pumps at Rwimi and Ibuga prisons, the replacement of a water tank in Luzira prison.

Family links

  • 540 RCMs were collected and distributed in cooperation with the Uganda Red Cross for family members separated by armed conflict;

  • 18 unaccompanied minors were helped to re-establish links with their families;

Promotion of humanitarian law and principles

  • 900 UPDF soldiers attended sessions on international humanitarian law and the ICRC's mandate and activities;

  • 2,000 police officers attended sessions on humanitarian principles, ICRC mandate and activities;

  • 25 police officers attended a 10-day IHL train-the-trainers course in Seeta (Mukono district);

  • 140 law students from Kampala International University and Uganda Christian University, Mukono, attended a lecture on IHL;

  • 55 camp leaders, including 18 women, attended an information session on the ICRC emblem, its principles and activities.

Cooperation with the Uganda Red Cross Society

The ICRC continued its support for the Uganda Red Cross, with technical and financial assistance. The programme includes capacity building, operational support and assistance in the promotion of humanitarian principles.

Making the Geneva Conventions work

In addition to its work with the military, the ICRC's is providing support and documentation to the Ugandan government on national implementation, covering the measures that have to be taken to ensure that the rules of IHL are respected. Initial meetings took place with three sessional committees of Parliament: Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Defence and Internal Affairs, and Gender, Labour and Social Development Affairs.

In addition, a workshop on IHL for 65 lawyers and other professionals was organised with the Uganda Law Society.