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Uganda: ICRC activities July to September 2007

24-01-2008 Operational Update

The ICRC, working with the Uganda Red Cross Society, remains active in northern Uganda, helping internally displaced persons, trying to put dispersed families back in touch and promoting international humanitarian law. The ICRC also visits detainees in Uganda.

 Overview  

The ICRC is closely monitoring the situation in Northern Uganda, in the light of peace talks between the Ugandan government and Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

Following the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of August 2006, there has been improved security, allowing greater access to farmland for people who had been displaced by the conflict (IDPs). Many of them are now voluntarily going home or moving to new sites nearer to their original homes.

The ICRC tries to address the material needs of some 770,000 IDPs still affected by the consequences of the armed conflict. Most of them are living in 64 camps and surrounding areas in the five districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Amuru, and Oyam. The ICRC continued to maintain a confidential dialogue with arms carriers and the relevant authorities to improve respect for the civilian population.

Based on a 2005 Memorandum of Understanding, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) and the Uganda Police Force (UPF) have taken further steps to incorporate international humanitarian law (IHL) and humanitarian principles into their training. Between July and September 2007, the ICRC contributed to this process, for example by organising an IHL course for military trainers.

In line with its agreements with the Ugandan authorities, the ICRC continued to visit people detained in connection with internal conflict, disturbances or national security, to monitor their treatment, material conditions and judicial guarantees.

The ICRC continued to provide material, technical and financial assistance to the U ganda Red Cross Society (URCS). It also maintained coordination efforts and dialogue with other humanitarian agencies to avoid duplication of services.

 Improving the situation of detainees  

In the third quarter of 2007, the ICRC made 52 visits to 40 places of detention, including military barracks, police stations and prisons. In ten prisons it provided detainees with material assistance (including cleaning and eating utensils, hygiene kits and water drums).

With the support of the Uganda Prisons Service, the ICRC improved access to safe water for detainees in 7 prisons, through renovation and construction of new water points.

 Restoring family links for refugees  

Between July and September, the ICRC continued to help strengthen the capacity of the Ugandan Red Cross in its efforts to re-establish family links, throughout Uganda and neighbouring countries, for people separated by armed conflicts. During this period:

  • 1,056 Red Cross Messages (RCMs) were collected and distributed.

  • 12 unaccompanied minors were helped to get back in touch with their families.

 Improving the situation of civilians in Northern Uganda   

 Economic security  

    

During the third quarter, almost 46,000 households (more than 251,000 people), in 34 camps, received seeds for the second planting season to enable them to become less dependant on relief assistance. More than three-quarters of these households were also given essential household items such as blankets and soap.

In 14 camps, 24 households that had lost their belongings in home fires received emergency kits of household items.

 Health   

In Northern Uganda, 14 health centres are supported by the ICRC so as to improve access to essential preventive and curative healthcare, through a community-based approach. During the third quarter the ICRC supported Kitgum hospital and contributed to the rehabilitation of some buildings of the national health infrastructure.

The ICRC and Ugandan Red Cross also:

  • Provided assorted drugs and medical supplies to two hospitals (one of them military) and 11 health centres

  • Distributed insecticide-treated mosquito nets in IDP camps (6,850 in this quarter)

  • Trained 192 traditional birth attendants on antenatal care and safe delivery

  • Evacuated around 60 people from camps to referral hospitals and health centres

  • Organized a community mobilization training for village health teams, attended by 356 people

 Water and sanitation  

During the third quarter of 2007, the ICRC continued its work to ensure safe water for displaced people and help create a healthy environment for them. In particular, it:

  • Drilled four new boreholes and fitted them with manual pumps; it rehabilitated a further 16 water points

  • Helped in the construction of 1,150 latrine stands

  • Carried out, with the Uganda Red Cross, weekly hygiene promotion sessions at 16 IDP camps

 Promoting international humanitarian law (IHL)  

The ICRC, working with the Uganda Red Cross, seeks to promote respect for IHL among political leaders, the military and police, universities and the media.

 Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF)  

Highlights during the third quarter of 2007 included:

  • 30 instructors and legal officers attended a two-week “Training of Trainers” course on IHL

  • 178 officers on a course at Kabamba training school attended a one-day presentation on ICRC mandate and activities

  • 30 senior officers from the 2nd Division participated in a three-day basic IHL course in Kasese district

  • 46 political, legal and intelligence officers from the 5th Division attended a two-day introductory course on IHL at Acholi Pii, Pader district

  • General presentations about IHL and the ICRC were made to some 850 soldiers and Local Defence Unit guards deployed in the conflict-affected northern region.

 Uganda Police Force (UPF)  

300 officers of the special Anti Stock-Theft Unit attended a presentation on international human rights law and humanitarian principles in Pader district (Northern region).

 Political Authorities  

The ICRC works continuously with the government of Uganda, to help it take measures to write the provisions of IHL treaties into national law. It offers advice from specialised lawyers as well as relevant documentation.

 Universities  

The ICRC c ontinued to promote the teaching of IHL in law faculties at three universities (Makerere, Uganda Christian and Kampala International). New contacts were established with various departments at Makerere University (Political Sciences, Public Administration and Religious Studies).

    

 Media  

With ICRC support, a journalist from Mega FM radio in Gulu district took part in a seminar for radio journalists held in Nairobi on July.

 Cooperation with the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS)  

    

The ICRC has a long-standing partnership with the URCS and seeks to assist it in developing its capacities for emergency response, restoring family links and promoting IHL. During the third quarter of 2007, the ICRC provided:

  • financial and material assistance to enable the URCS to give non-food items to 2,086 Kenyan households fleeing violence in the Mount Elgon region;

  • support to the URCS in providing seeds and tools to 1,235 households hosting Kenyan families in eastern Uganda;

  • assistance to the URCS in its operation for flood victims that provided relief items to more than 14,000 households.




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