KAMPALA - The Government of Uganda and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that they have agreed to resume tomorrow WFP humanitarian operations in the drought-affected Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda.
The Government assured WFP that it will strengthen security for its staff, property and truck convoys following the killing last Monday of WFP driver Richard Achuka in an ambush by gunmen in Kotido District.
The attack took place as a convoy of four WFP trucks returned from delivering food to school children and people affected by drought in neighbouring Kaabong District. In the wake of the attack, WFP temporarily suspended food deliveries to half a million drought victims in the region.
"We must recognize that WFP works in a challenging environment," said Minister of State for Relief and Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru. "The Government will provide full security to the staff and property of WFP and all humanitarian partners in the region to enable them achieve their mission."
"Because we are keenly aware of the magnitude of the drought in Karamoja and the huge additional needs for relief assistance, WFP has agreed to resume its humanitarian work across the region from tomorrow (1 June)," said WFP Uganda Country Director Tesema Negash.
Ecweru said that the Government holds WFP and its staff in high regard and that WFP always responds promptly when Ugandans are in distress.
This week, the leaders of Abim, Kaabong and Kotido Districts expressed concern at the murder and asked WFP to consider it as an isolated case. They pledged to pursue the attackers and bring them to justice. They appealed to WFP to continue its assistance and said they appreciated WFP's work for the last 40 years in Karamoja, which has the highest severe and moderate malnutrition rates in Uganda.
"If WFP withdraws from Karamoja at this critical time, the suffering of the people will reach unacceptable levels," said Simon Lokodo from the Karamoja Parliamentary Group.
In January, WFP started distributions of food assistance to 500,000 people in Karamoja, hit by a third drought in six years. Another 200,000 people in Karamoja, the poorest region in Uganda, also receive WFP assistance, meaning that at least 70 percent of the region's entire population benefits from WFP food.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: on average, each year, we give food to 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP - We Feed People.
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