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Uganda: large-scale distribution of relief items in the north

07-02-2008 News Release 08/23

Kampala (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has begun distributing relief items to 72,000 displaced families in northern Uganda.

Some 385,000 individuals – internally displaced people and returnees in Gulu, Amuru, Oyam, Kitgum and Pader districts – will receive seed, hygiene items and school materials. The distribution will last more than a month and will be carried out with the help of over 50 volunteers from the Uganda Red Cross Society.

Before the beginning of the rainy season, all the families will have received hoes and groundnut seed. In addition, they will be given a choice of beans, rice or sesame seeds. “This year, with increased access to arable land, the displaced farmers should be able – weather conditions permitting – to produce a marketable surplus to cover part of their family expenses,” explains Peter Schamberger, the ICRC economic security coordinator in Kampala.

The families will receive kits containing school bags, rulers, exercise books, erasers, pencils and pens. The operation needs to be carefully coordinated because the ICRC does not have enough warehouse capacity. Most items will arrive just in time from many different places in Uganda or from abroad. The scarcity of some items is a further difficulty. “The 140,000 pencils for the school kits were difficult to find in Uganda, as the political turmoil in Kenya has caused a shortage,” says Kim Johansen, the ICRC logistics coordinator in Kampala. “We nevertheless managed to buy them in the nick of time thanks to the efficient work of our logistics specialists.”

The armed conflict in northern Uganda drove an estimated 1.7 million people away from their homes into camps for displaced people. However, the humanitarian situation has improved noticeably since the cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in August 2006. While the Juba peace talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army continue, people are returning to their homes in ever increasing numbers.

ICRC activities are adapting to the new situation. By means of various water, sanitation, health and other aid programmes, the ICRC is striving to improve conditions for over 500,000 internally displaced people in camps and for returnees in their home areas.

  For further information, please contact:
  Pascal Jequier, ICRC Kampala, tel: +256 772 221 994 or +256 41 341 605/6
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 3217 or +41 22 730 2271