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Uganda: ICRC activities April to June 2007

31-08-2007 Operational Update

The ICRC, with the cooperation of the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), is continuing its humanitarian assistance programme in Uganda, supporting internally displaced persons (IDPs)(see also feature), visiting detainees, and promoting international humanitarian law (IHL) to the armed and police forces, and universities.

  ©ICRC/D. Ocwich    
  Displaced people at Acokara camp in Oyam district receiving essential household items and seeds from the ICRC.    

  ©ICRC/D. Ocwich    
  77-year-old Nikolas Acika from Acokara carries the items he received during an ICRC distribution.    

  ©ICRC/D. Ocwich    
  Children play on the grounds of Acokara Primary School as they wait to help their families carry ICRC-distributed relief items.    


In order be able to adapt its action to changing needs, the ICRC is closely monitoring the situation in Northern Uganda, which is currently defined by the ongoing peace talks in Juba, Sudan between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. The talks have led to relative stability in northern Uganda, and therefore increased access to cultivable land for IDPs, who are now voluntarily returning to their homes or new sites nearer to their original homes. The ICRC is striving to improve the living conditions of some 770,000 people displaced by the armed conflict in Northern Uganda to 64 IDP camps in the five districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Amuru, and Oyam.
Based on Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the ICRC in 2005, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) and the Uganda Police Force (UPF) have progressively continued to incorporate International Humanitarian Law into their doctrines, training and operational procedures. In April, the ICRC held a basic course on IHL for the military operating in the volatile Karamoja region, while an IHL training the trainers'course was also organised for the military in Jinja.
Detention visits continued to strive to ensure that treatment and conditions of people detained in connection with internal conflict conform to international basic standards.
The ICRC continues to provide technical and financial assistance to the URCS and maintains a dialogue with other humanitarian agencies to avoid duplication of services.

Improving the situation of detainees
  • In the second quarter of 2007, the ICRC carried out 40 visits to 30 civilian and military places of detention, with particular attention on Karamoja, Kampala, Northern and Western regions.

  • To ensure the provision of safe drinking water to detainees, the ICRC completed the construction of a 330,000-litre water tank in Luzira prison complex that will benefit 10,000 people.

  • The ICRC also rehabilitated boreholes in Gulu, Ruimi and Ibuga prisons. Two new hand pumps were installed in Rwimi and Ibuga.

  • Bedding, hygiene and recreational materials were delivered to detainees in Kamuge, Hoima, Masindi, Isimba and Moroto prisons.

  • In cooperation with the Uganda Prisons Service and the national programmes on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria under the Ministry of Health, the ICRC agreed on a framework for a two-year joint pilot project on health in Luzira Upper, Fort Portal and Gulu prisons.

    Restoring Family Links

The ICRC and URCS continued to help families separated by conflict to stay in touch. A total of 972 Red Cross Messages were exchanged, including those between political detainees and their families.


Helping the civilian population

The ICRC maintained a confidential dialogue with arms carriers and the relevant authorities to improve respect for the civilian population.

 Improving IDPs living conditions through water and sanitation

The ICRC's water, sanitation, hygiene and habitat programmes provide victims of armed conflict with safe water for drinking and other domestic use. Improved hygiene conditions protect the population from water borne diseases.

  • In the second quarter, the ICRC drilled 2 boreholes and fitted them with manual pumps, and rehabilitated another 27 water points.

  • The ICRC also supported the construction of 177 latrines, on top of conducting weekly hygiene promotion sessions in seven IDP camps.

 The sick and the wounded

The ICRC health programme aims to ensure that IDPs/returnees living in areas served by 14 health centres supported by the ICRC have access to essential, preventive and curative healthcare through effective community-based activities and the existing health service.

  • The ICRC donated assorted drugs and medical supplies to 4 hospitals – including a military hospital - and 15 health centres.

  • At least 20,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets were distributed to beneficiaries in several camps in Gulu, Pader and Kitgum.

  • 151 traditional birth attendants in 6 IDP camps were trained on antenatal care and safe delivery.

  • The ICRC carried out at least 28 medical evacuations from camps to referral hospitals and health centres during the second quarter.

 Material assistance to improve IDPs' food and economic security

  • During the second quarter, 67,192 families (369,500 individuals) received seeds for the second planting season as well as additional essential household items (EHI) like blankets and soap.

  • As an emergency response, ICRC provided EHIs to 8,679 individuals in 1'578 households who lost their belongings.

  • Almost 3,000 farmers attended agricultural training sessions organized by the ICRC that focused on improved production techniques.

  • The ICRC distributed emergency food supplies from the World Food Programme to 936 families living in Atanga camp in Pader that had lost their food stocks in a camp fire.


Promotion of international humanitarian law (IHL) 

 Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF)

  • 24 UPDF officers actively participated in a 10-day IHL Training of Trainers course in April.

  • 23 UPDF officers from the 3rd Military Division participated in a three-day basic course on IHL held in Moroto.

  • 80 senior officers following a one-year course at the Senior Command and Staff College in Kimaka, Jinja district, attended dissemination on IHL.

  • 44 intelligence officers attended an information session on IHL at Singo Military Training School.

  • 100 officers undergoing training for peacekeeping missions abroad attended an information session on IHL and civil and military cooperation, in Jinja. 

  • The ICRC also organised several dissemination sessions for more than 1'100 soldiers deployed mainly in the conflict-affected northern region.

  • The ICRC also organised information sessions for 104 Local Defence Unit (LDU) guards/militias in Northern Uganda.

 Uganda Police Force (UPF)

  • 26 officers selected for the African Union peacekeeping missions in Sudan and Liberia attended an information session on International Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Principles at the Kibuli Police Training School.

  • The UPF also had another 247 Special Police Constables and the specialised Anti Stock Theft Unit officers attending dissemination on International Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Principles in the northern region.


  • Two law faculties (Makerere University and UCU Mukono) introduced an IHL module under the Public International Law course.

  • The ICRC gave IHL lectures to 105 students at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mukono, Kampala International University, and Makerere University.

  • Three lecturers attended the annual ICRC workshop on IHL academic teaching organized in Nairobi.

  • A student from Makerere University won the IHL essay competition for university students in East Africa.

 Political Authorities

  • Three parliamentary committees held meetings with the ICRC and shared information on IHL implementation.

  • The ICRC shared information on a draft bill to enact the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

  • The UPDF human rights desk received legal documentation relevant to the UPDF’s draft action plan to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers into the army.

Cooperation with the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) 
  • The URCS carried out an assessment of the volatile Karamoja region and another in Manafwa district in relation to the Mount Elgon/Pokot clashes in Kenya.

  • The ICRC supported the URCS in organizing 510 dissemination sessions for 11,383 people.

See also feature  

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