Uganda: Worst humanitarian crisis for years in Pader district, says report

NAIROBI, 14 March (IRIN) - A total of 74 percent of the population of Pader district, northern Uganda, is estimated to be displaced due to insecurity caused by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group (LRA).
An assessment conducted by the Ugandan government of Uganda, NGOs, local authorities and United Nations agencies (from 17-22 February) has revealed that over 240,000 people are now living in 13 "major camps" in the district.

A general deterioration in health services was reported, with only 15 out of a total of 24 health units functioning, the report said. In most cases these were running below their normal capacities, due to problems with replenishing stocks. Forty percent of health workers had also left the district, due to the targeting of health units by the LRA.

The health units that were open were being run by nursing aides or community volunteers, and were "overwhelmed" by the demand for their services from the IDPs.

Of 403 children surveyed, 14 percent were found to be severely or moderately malnourished, and 29 percent at risk of malnourishment, primarily due to lack of access to fields. "With the impending famine, the figure of malnourished children is likely to increase drastically," the report said.

Education had also been adversely affected, the report said, with classroom sizes ranging from 150-300 pupils. Most teachers had fled from schools in remote areas.

Sanitation was described as "extremely appalling" with faeces commonly littering open spaces in the camps.

A spokeswoman for the World Food Programme told IRIN on Friday that the food agency hoped to begin food distributions to about 235,000 people, in 12 camps in Pader district, by the end of March. The remaining IDPs, in Awere camp, were already being assisted, she said.


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