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Food insecurity likely to worsen in north Uganda, UN warns

Food insecurity likely to worsen in north Uganda, UN warns

A persistent lack of security and funding shortfalls are placing Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in northern Uganda in greater danger of food shortage and complete dependency on aid for survival, the United Nations warned today.

The situation in northern Uganda remains bleak after poor harvests resulted in precariously low household food stocks, according to an update by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The continuing insecurity - caused by fighting between the Lord's Resistance Army and Government forces - is raising concerns that IDPs will again fail to gain adequate access to their homes and fields to cultivate food in the coming major season, which starts this March.

The civilian population of northern Uganda remains almost totally isolated from the rest of the country, and OCHA warns that, unless security greatly improves, the IDPs will not utilize the coming planting season usefully and might remain food insecure and therefore reliant on food aid from the World Food Programme (WFP).

However, due to lack of resources, WFP was forced in January to suspend distribution of cereals to the IDPs in northern Uganda and to reduce all cereal rations to refugees by 50 per cent. WFP feeds over 800,000 IDPs and 150,000 refugees in 66 settlements in eight districts.

This persistent insecurity and the general disruption of other economic activities have constrained the coping strategies of the IDPs. Many also suffer from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and upper thoracic infections and are very vulnerable to a host of other communicable diseases.