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Uganda: UN refugee agency racing to help thousands in aftermath of attack on camp

Uganda: UN refugee agency racing to help thousands in aftermath of attack on camp

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today said it was racing against time to help the survivors of a recent rebel attack on a refugee camp in northern Uganda, which killed dozens of people and caused tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees to flee southwards.

The attack on Acholi-Pii refugee camp is believed to have left at least 50 people dead, including 38 refugees, a spokesman for UNHCR said in Geneva. Amid rumours of further attacks, a huge trucking operation was mounted on Wednesday to transport refugees from their present location in Lira, south of the scene of the attack, to the transit site of Kiryondongo.

According to spokesman Kris Janowski, about 17,000 terrified Sudanese refugees reached Lira on Wednesday afternoon, after trekking 60 kilometres on foot from Rachkoko where they had initially fled after the attack. "UNHCR had earlier urged the group to leave Rachkoko as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels responsible for Monday's attack were making the area very insecure," he said.

As the refugees arriving in Lira were still being attended to with food, medicines and blankets, the first trucks began heading south to Kiryondongo, an existing refugee settlement of 13,000 people where survivors of the attack are temporarily sheltered, Mr. Janowski said.

Plans are being made to quickly upgrade facilities in Kiryondongo to be able to absorb the inflow, according to the spokesman. "A one-month supply of drugs for 10,000 people has already been dispatched, and an emergency hospital tent will be set up," Mr. Janowski said. "UNHCR has started registering the refugees arriving in Kiryondongo to try and trace the total population of 24,000 refugees who were in Acholi-Pii when the attack took place. Some 5,000 have already been registered."