Uganda

UN's USG Holmes meets Uganda's President Museveni

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(New York, 14 May 2007): The United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs (USG) and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), John Holmes, today arrived in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

In a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni today, Mr. Holmes discussed collaboration between the United Nations and the Government of Uganda, as well as the Juba peace talks. Mr. Holmes noted the importance of the peace process and its impact on the humanitarian situation. He underscored the importance of meeting humanitarian needs during the return process and observed that there are still one million people in camps. In their discussion of Karamoja, Mr. Holmes expressed his concern about the protection of civilians and the current security situation and urged a developmental approach to Karamoja.

"We had a lively exchange with the President about the situation in Northern Uganda, including Karamoja," Mr. Holmes said. "We agreed that the United Nations and the Government of Uganda should work on humanitarian and development issues in the coming years and also enhance partnership to ensure a smooth transition process."

Tomorrow, Mr. Holmes is scheduled to visit Kitgum in northern Uganda, where he will meet local authorities, NGOs, UN agencies, the Red Cross movement, and IDPs including ex-combatants, and visit a settlement site and an IDP camp.

Despite an improved situation in northern Uganda since the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, mortality rates in the Acholi region and in Karamoja exceed emergency thresholds, and Kitgum District is still home to over 260,000 IDPs in 23 IDP settlements.

From 12 to 14 May, Mr. Holmes visited Somalia, and was the first USG to visit the country in 14 years. However, the mission had to be cut short for security reasons, and plans for a second day in Somalia were cancelled. In discussions with President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi, the USG highlighted his concerns about the severity and magnitude of the crisis and stressed that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) must provide a more enabling operating environment for aid workers. On its part, the TFG noted its desire to cooperate with international organizations. The USG also voiced concern over human rights abuses in the country, and received reassurances from the government that it would allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, to visit.

For further information, please call: Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1 917 892 1679; Kristen Knutson, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 9262; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570. OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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