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Uganda: ICRC activities October to December 2006

31-12-2006 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), visiting detainees, and promoting international humanitarian law (IHL) to the armed and police forces, and universities.


To be able adapt its action to changing needs, the ICRC is closely monitoring the situation in Northern Uganda which is marked by ongoing peace talks and the trend for people to return home. In this region it is helping 770,000 IDPs affected by the armed conflict in the Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Amuru, and Oyam districts.

The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and Uganda Police Force (UPF) have made progress in implementing the memoranda of understanding into their training and operational procedures, which will incorporate International Humanitarian Law (IHL). These memoranda were signed with the ICRC in 2005. In November, the ICRC held a basic course on IHL for the military operating in the Karamoja region.

Detention visits continued to strive to ensure that treatment and conditions conform to international basic standards.

The ICRC continues to provide technical and financial assistance to the URCS and keeps up a dialogue with other humanitarian agencies to avoid duplication of services.


 Improving the situation of detainees  


In th e last quarter of 2006, the ICRC carried out 82 visits to 48 civilian and military places of detention and facilitated the exchange of 406 Red Cross Messages between detainees and their families.

The ICRC shared two confidential reports with the concerned authorities: one on the respect of judicial guarantees of persons detained under the military justice system, and the other being the annual report on the treatment and conditions of detention of persons detained under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

To provide safe drinking water to detainees, the ICRC drilled two boreholes in Rwimi and Ibuga prisons. Bedding, hygiene and recreational material were delivered to the prisons of Lira and Gulu, the Luzira prison for women, and the Luzira Remand Prison. The ICRC and the Uganda Prison Services (UPS) made a joint assessment of Kitgum prison with a view to its rehabilitation.

 Restoring Family Links  


The ICRC and URCS continued to help families separated by the conflict to maintain contact, and 628 Red Cross Messages were exchanged. Two unaccompanied minors were repatriated to their countries of origin (Sudan and DRC) and reunified with their families.


 Helping the civilian population  


Alleged abuses against civilians and former combatants were discussed confidentially with the relevant authorities, the displaced, former abductees, camp and military authorities, and traditional leaders.

 Water and Sanitation  


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

In the last quarter, the ICRC drilled 15 boreholes and fitted them with manual pumps, supported the construction of some 500 latrines, and carried out hygiene promotion sessions in seven IDP camps.

 The sick and the wounded  


The ICRC health programme aims to ensure that IDPs in 19 camps have access to essential preventive and curative health care, through effective community-based activities and the existing health service. The ICRC supports nine hospitals and 15 health centres. The programme includes training, ad-hoc provision of medical supplies (medicines, surgical kits), equipment and infrastructural rehabilitation. The ICRC supports the implementation of the Enlarged Program of Immunization and Maternal and Child Health.

Community health education and hygiene promotion activities take place in 19 IDP camps. In addition, 250 traditional birth attendants in 13 IDP camps were trained on antenatal care, safe delivery, cases of sexual violence, and HIV/AIDS.

The ICRC immediately responded to the cholera outbreak in the Kitgum and Pader districts during the last quarter of 2006. The ICRC supported the cholera treatment unit set up for 47,000 people in the camp of Padibe, in Kitgum, and carried out social mobilisation in six camps in Pader.

The ICRC carried out 50 medical evacuations from camps to referral hospitals during the last quarter.

 Economic Security  

The ICRC seeks to meet the needs of vulnerable people in IDP camps through emergency relief and the distribution of essential household items (EHI), i.e. blankets; jerry cans; soap; cooking pots; buckets; aluminium cups and plates; farm implements; and seeds. During the last quarter of 2006, the ICRC replaced jerry cans and blankets for 65,536 families in the Gulu and Kitgum districts. Each of those families received 3.2kg of soap. Following fire outbreaks, 331 families were assisted with emergency EHI. The ICRC carried out its regular distribution of soap in 23 camps to 7,808 vulnerable households.

In Gulu/Amuru, Kitgum and Pader districts, the ICRC distributed millet seeds to beneficiaries for planting during the first season of 2007.

Promotion of international humanitarian law (IHL) 

 Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF)  


A total of 72 officers and 1,039 soldiers, undergoing training for missions abroad, attended a week-long ICRC dissemination on IHL in Singo Training School. The ICRC held two sessions on IHL with 41 senior UPDF officers attending a one-year course at the Senior Command and Staff College in Kimaka. It also taught two basic courses for 24 officers of the 3rd Military Division in Mbale/Karamoja, and for 24 officers of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence in Luwero.

A 10-day IHL training of trainers course for 35 UPDF officers took place in November, ending the first year of the ICRC-UPDF cooperation programme.

 Uganda Police Force (UPF)  

The ICRC-UPF second training of trainers course enabled 26 instructors to be trained in IHL and human rights principles. The ICRC conducted an awareness raising session to 29 police officers attending a Middle Command and Management course.


The ICRC gave IHL lectures to 189 students at Uganda Christian University, Kampala International University, and Makerere University. Four lecturers attended the IHL advanced seminar organised by the ICRC in Pretoria. Two students'teams participated at the 6th IHL regional moot court in Tanzania.

 Political Authorities  


The ICRC shared with authorities information on the procedure to ratify the 2006 Third Additional Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions concerning the red crystal emblem.

Co-operation with Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) 

The URCS held its quarterly meeting and adopted the new Strategic Plan 2007-2010. The ICRC supported the production of Luo/English dissemination flipcharts to the URCS branches.

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